Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

 

Moonquake-Proof Moonbases Needed?

Moonquake-proof habitats? Clive R. Neal, associate professor of civil engineering and geological sciences at the University of Notre Dame, believes that special construction for moonbases may be necessary if we persist in our goal to return to the Moon.

Information about moonquakes comes from the seismometers placed on the Moon by Apollo astronauts from 1969 through 1972. The instruments placed by the Apollo 12, 14, 15 and 16 functioned perfectly until switched off in 1977.


(Buzz Aldrin deploys a seismometer in the Sea of Tranquility)

According to NASA, there are at least four different kinds of moonquakes:

  • deep moonquakes (~700 km below the surface, probably caused by tidal in origin)
  • meteorites impact vibrations
  • thermal quakes (the frigid lunar crust expands sunlight returns after the two week lunar night)
  • shallow moonquakes (20 or 30 kilometers below the surface)
The first three mentioned above tend to be mild; however, shallow moonquakes can register up to 5.5 on the Richter scale. Between 1972 and 1977, twenty-eight shallow moonquakes were observed. On Earth, quakes of magnitude 4.5 and above can cause damage to buildings and other rigid structures.

Little is known about the causes, or the distribution, of shallow moonquakes. One possible explanation is that relatively young craters may slump. Neal and his colleagues are proposing that a network of 12 seismometers be placed around the moon to gather data; this would be part of the larger plan to find safe lunar bases.

So, who was first to work on the problem of moonquake-proof habitats? Robert Heinlein is a good candidate: he made some suggestions in his 1948 story Gentlemen, Be Seated, which takes place on the Moon as a new colony is expanding. First, he identifies the problem:

"Every engineering job has its own hazards," he insisted, "and its advantages, too. Our men don't get malaria and they don't have to watch out for rattlesnakes..."

"Okay, okay," I interrupted, "so the place is safe... So you keep unnecessary airlocks. Why?"

He hesitated before he answered, "Quakes."

Quakes. Earthquakes-moonquakes, I mean.
(Read more about moonquake-proof habitats)

One solution that is offered is that of extra airlocks; by compartmentalizing your walkway or habitat, you can cut your losses. The second suggestion is that of flexible joints:

"Show him a flexible joint," Knowles directed. "Coming up." We paused half-way down the tunnel and Konski pointed to a ring segment that ran completely around the tubular tunnel. "We put in a flex joint every hundred feet. It's glass cloth, gasketed onto the two steel sections it joins. Gives the tunnel a certain amount of springiness."
(Read more about moonquake-proof habitats)

As a final suggestion, to be used during emergencies when relatively small leaks might result from quakes (or other causes), Heinlein suggests the use of "tag-alongs:"

There were perhaps a dozen bladder-like objects in the tunnel, the size and shape of toy balloons. They seemed to displace exactly their own weight of air; they floated without displaying much tendency to rise or settle. Konski batted one out of his way and answered me before I could ask.

"This piece of tunnel was pressurized today," he told me.

"These tag-alongs search out stray leaks. They're sticky inside. They get sucked up against a leak, break, and the goo gets sucked in, freezes and seals the leak."
(Read more about tag-alongs)

And beyond the Moon? One of the seismometers carried to Mars by the U.S. Viking landers during the mid-1970's remained operational. Only one possible marsquake was detected in 546 Martian days. The Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft detected what appeared to be changes to the Martian surface; Michael Meyer, chief scientist for the mission, speculated that the changes might have been caused by marsquakes.

Read more about moonquakes at NASA and Space.com. Thanks to Troy and Fred Kiesche for contributing the tip on this story.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/16/2006)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

First Ever Proof Of Water On Asteroids
'Yes, strangely enough there was still sufficient water beneath the surface of Vesta.' - Raymond Z. Gallun, 1951.

Gigantic Space Sunshade Would Fight Global Warming
'...the light of the sun had been polarized by two crossed fields so that no radiation could pass.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1953.

Untethered Spacewalk's 50th Anniversary
'But that space walk of mine wasn't so very amazing.' - Dom Passante, 1939.

ESA Designs Huge Inflatable Moonbase
'It was like being inside a balloon; indeed, that was exactly where he was.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1961.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Current News

Ulm Sleep Pods For The Homeless
'The lid lifted and she crawled inside...'

Prophetic Offers Lucid Dreaming Halo With Morpheus-1 AI
''Leads trail away from insertion points on her face and wrist... to a lucid dreamer...'

More Like A Tumblebug Than A Motorcycle
'It is about the size and shape of a kitchen stool, gyro-stabilized on a single wheel...'

Tesla Camera-Only Vision Predicted In 1930's SF
'By its means, the machine can see.'

First Ever Proof Of Water On Asteroids
'Yes, strangely enough there was still sufficient water beneath the surface of Vesta.'

Aptera Solar EV More Stylish Than Heinlein Steel Tortoise
'When confronted by hills, or rough terrain, it did not stop, but simply slowed until the task demanded equaled its steady power output.'

Gigantic Space Sunshade Would Fight Global Warming
'...the light of the sun had been polarized by two crossed fields so that no radiation could pass.'

Untethered Spacewalk's 50th Anniversary
'But that space walk of mine wasn't so very amazing.'

ESA Designs Huge Inflatable Moonbase
'It was like being inside a balloon; indeed, that was exactly where he was.'

AlphaGarden Robot Cares For Gardens Better Than Humans
'...a simple clock-set servok with pipe and hose arms.'

Let's Make Slaver Sunflowers! Engineering Plants To Reflect Light
'The mirror-blossom was a terrible weapon.'

TeslaBot Uber Driver (2024) And The Automatic Motorist (1911)
'Robots have worse problems than anybody'

DiffuseBot Uses Generative AI To Invent New Soft Robots
'It embodies several small-scale multiple stampers, apparently for dealing with sheet metal.'

Philips Smart Palm Recognition Smart Deadbolt
'A palm lock must be keyed to one individual's hand shape...'

BMind Smart Mirror from Baracoda
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who has the greatest wellness of all?

Ballie Your AI Robot Companion From Samsung
Projects your content anywhere you like.

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.