Complex Made Simple

Moon missions include NASA manned, UAE unmanned, Electricity networks, 3D printed habitats, and SETI

NASA and the UAE are planning simultaneous missions to the moon in 2024 but the moon’s surface and orbit will experience some familiar urban noise with buzzing power lines, and robotically printed human habitats, among others

The Emirates Moon Exploration Project aims to send the first Arab mission "with national competencies" to the Moon by 2024 Nasa is launching a $5 million prize in its Watts on the Moon Challenge to power the dark side 3D-printed Moon habitats could be used to support the human exploration of earth's satellite

US space agency NASA and the UAE are planning simultaneous missions to the moon in 2024, the first manned, the other not.

Exciting events, but the moon’s surface and orbit will over the coming years also experience some familiar urban noise with buzzing power lines, and robotically printed human habitats.

Communication technology to detect, listen, and interpret alien noise on the moon is also getting serious attention. 

Mission Moon

NASA has formally outlined its $28 billion plan, called Artemis, to return to the Moon by 2024. NASA will send a man and a woman to the lunar surface in the first landing with humans since 1972, contingent on the US Congress releasing $3.2bn for building a landing system. An unmanned test flight is scheduled for 2021.

The Emirates Moon Exploration Project aims to send the first Arab mission “with national competencies” to the Moon by 2024.

It has been one year since the UAE’s landmark mission to space and the country’s first Emirati astronauts have now set their sights on the Moon.

Maj Hazza Al Mansouri became the first Emirati to go into space on September 25, 2019, as well as the first Arab to board the International Space Station (ISS).

The former F-16 pilot and Dr. Sultan Al Neyadi, the reserve astronaut, are now part of Nasa’s Astronaut Candidate Training Program, which they hope will help them reach the moon through the US’ Artemis mission.

The Emirati astronauts’ training at Nasa will pave the way for them and two other Emiratis, who will join the next batch of trainees once selected next year, to be part of such missions.

A probe, called Hope, was launched to Mars in July. It is expected to arrive at the Red Planet by February, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Union’s formation.

“It will be an Emirati-made lunar rover that will land on the surface of the Moon in 2024 in areas that have not been explored previously by human missions,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum wrote on Twitter. 

Sheikh Mohammed said the rover would be named “Rashid”, the same name of his late father, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum.

If successful in 2024, the UAE could become the fourth nation on the Earth to land a spacecraft on the Moon, after the US, the Soviet Union, and China.  

The UAE also has set a goal to build a human colony on Mars by 2117.

Read: SpaceX now the first private firm to launch humans into space

Powering the moon

Nights on the moon can last up to 350 hours. That creates some big technical challenges as NASA’s Artemis program gears up to send people back to the moon.

One of the biggest difficulties presented by lunar night is the loss of solar power. For long-term habitation to be viable, NASA needs to find a sustainable solution. To that, it’s launching a $5 million prize in its Watts on the Moon Challenge, which is being launched in collaboration with crowdsourcing platform HeroX.

Says Christian Cotichini, CEO of HeroX: “This has exciting implications for space exploration, and it could also improve life down here on Earth, in terms of renewable energy use and storage.”

Participating teams comprising US citizens or US permanent residents only will receive a specific mission scenario with three mission activities related to energy distribution, management, and storage.  

3D printed habitats 

The Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has conceived the development of 3D-printed Moon habitats that could be used to support the human exploration of earth’s satellite.

Project Olympus is a collaboration between BIG and 3D printing technology firm as well as SEArch+ and NASA’s Marshall Space Center. BIG did provide some futuristic renders depicting protective donut-like shelters.

If all goes to plan, 3D-printing robots could potentially land on the lunar surface and go about their business autonomously building human-habitable shelters from lunar soil while only requiring local materials and leaving no waste left behind.

Read: UAE online search trends: Increased interest in space ahead of Mars Mission 

SETI: An Alien project

A group of researchers sponsored by Breakthrough Listen submitted a paper to the National Academy of Sciences’ Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey that makes the case for establishing a Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) radio observatory on the far side of the moon. 

The new paper addresses one of the biggest problems facing the search for extraterrestrial intelligence today: The overwhelming amount of radio interference.

A lunar radio telescope would not have to deal with terrestrial radio frequency interference (RFI) by opening up parts of the radio spectrum that are blocked by Earth’s atmosphere.