Moon

Buzz Aldrin of Apollo 11

The Moon (Luna) is the Earth's solitary natural satellite, roughly 385,000 kilometers away. It has roughly 38,000,000 square kilometers of surface area, and is not believed to harbor any life.

Get in

Lunar Roving Vehicle

The Moon has had no human visitors since the end of the Apollo program in 1972. Unmanned missions ended in 1976 (Soviet Union, "Luna 24" probe), only resuming at the end of 2013 (China, "Jade Rabbit" rover) .

Various nations have plans to send robotic visitors, but the 2011 cancellation of NASA's Constellation program ends any possibility of manned lunar landing before 2020. The European Space Agency's Aurora programme envisions human spaceflight to the moon in 2024; India and Japan also propose manned missions after 2020.

If you're content with just taking a closer look, Space Adventures and the Russian Space Agency have floated the idea of a flight around the moon for a cool US$100 million or so; see Space for details.

If you cannot get into space, you can still see the Moon from Earth; see Astronomy.

Get around

Conventional aircraft are useless on the Moon since there is no atmosphere to generate the aerodynamic lift they require to fly. Internal combustion engines would be likewise as they would have to carry around both fuel and oxidator (i.e. air) and there are issues with cooling in a near perfect vacuum that most normal engines are not adapted to. The primary method of transportation has been (battery powered) lunar rovers, three of which are still stranded at Mons Hadley, the Descartes Highland and the Taurus-Littrow valley. Whether they still are in any workable condition or can be brought into one with limited repairs is currently not known.

Gravity on the Moon's surface is only one-sixth of the Earth, which compensates in part for having to wear a bulky pressurized spacesuit. Most of the Apollo astronauts have "walked" in a rather peculiar half jumping fashion that is only possible due to the lower gravity and appears to be the best form of locomotion due to the somewhat motorically limiting nature of a space-suit.

Due to several considerations (lack of air, low gravity, no energy resources apart from sunlight) magnetic levitation railways have been proposed as a possible method of transportation once a moonbase (or several) is established. However, currently the plans for moonbases that do exist are not detailed enough to include such features.

See

Do

Eat

While ancient legends on Earth report the reflection of the moon to appear as a wheel of green cheese, there are no restaurants or shops available on the Moon and therefore no food service amenities and no moon pies. Take all the food you need with you. Astronaut food has been called incredibly bland, but then again so has airline food.

Drink

Moon River, wider than a mile, I'm crossing you in style some day. Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker...

There is next to nothing to drink on the moon as the surface is primarily desert (in fact even the soil in the driest places on earth such as the Atacama or the Namib contains more water than the surface Regolith on the moon by one or several orders of magnitude). Although there is ice located in deep craters in the polar regions, access is awkward at best.

Thus far, all manned missions have brought their needed water with them. The modern International Space Station has some water reclamation capability, but missions in the Apollo era did not. Due to its weight, water is expensive and costly to transport but there is no viable alternative.

Sleep

The next phase of lunar exploration will probably involve the construction of permanent manned bases in the Moon's polar regions. In the meantime accommodation is limited to what you bring. The lunar landers of the Apollo program have all been equipped to be used for sleeping, so chances are whatever you land in will be as well.

Stay safe

Due to the fact that there are no humans on the moon, there is no crime (unless travel companions are unreliable).

The universe however is generally inhospitable and this will become all too apparent once you leave the comforts of Earth. In addition to the obvious problems of freezing cold temperatures and the lack of a breathable atmosphere, in order to stay alive you will have to take precautions against:

Bear in mind that the temperatures also get well below freezing if you are not in direct sunlight. If you are, you run the risk of skin cancer.

Stay healthy

There are no hospitals or emergency medical facilities on the Moon, and the response times by the emergency services take longer than the recommended guidelines. Oxygen deficiency may also be a problem. However, there are no infectious diseases on the moon and neither are there pests. Make sure you maintain strict hygiene with everything you bring to keep it that way.

Stay connected

Communications back to Earth, as deployed for the Apollo missions, are primitive but usable. Slow-scan television (SSTV) lunar transmissions must share communication bandwidth with telemetry data. Image data from the five Lunar Orbiter spacecraft is transmitted to Earth stations "M" (Madrid, Spain), "W" (Woomera, Australia) and "G" (Goldstone, California) and logged to tape. As real-time conversions from SSTV format for live broadcast on Earth were initially little more than primitive screenshots, by the time that July 21, 1969 moonwalk gets uploaded to YouTube substantial losses in image quality are visible.

Transmission from lunar rover via a Command Service Module in lunar orbit to Earth is infeasible for visitors to the lunar poles or the dark side of the Moon, as line-of-sight transmission to Earth is simply not available. A 2008 NASA proposal advocates lunar-orbiting satellites as a workaround but no system has been deployed.

A postmark exists for "United States on the Moon", a rare one-of-a-kind collector item. A matching pair of 8¢ stamps were issued by USPS with captions "United States in Space", "A decade of achievement". The mail pouch is stored under Apollo 15 commander David Scott's seat on the lunar rover, last seen around Hadley Rille on August 2, 1971. Be sure to send or bring back a few moon dust covered postcards as souvenirs.

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, March 15, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.