Did you know? The technology in your smartphone is literally one million times faster than the technology used in Apollo 11 – a spaceship that travelled to the moon!
But, hey… wasn’t that more than 50 years ago?
If the smartphone in my pocket is more powerful than a million Apollo 11s… why aren’t we living on the moon already?
We have people living in space on the ISS. Why haven’t we set up camp on our closest interstellar neighbor?
It’s a great question – and when a reader mentioned this in a recent comment, we got curious ourselves. So, we investigated!
Below you’ll find 5 theories that explain why we haven’t moved to the moon – despite visiting in 1969. These are just the best guesses out there… if you have a theory, be sure to share it in the comments below!
1. There’s no oxygen. Or water, or food, or life…
Okay, I know what you’re thinking: DUH!
However, it makes sense that we haven’t tried very hard to establish ourselves on the moon – there’s not much benefit to living there. The moon is essentially an empty, lifeless rock that just happens to be floating nearby us (no offense, moon!).
We need air to live – and water to grow food. Without these self-sustaining things, the moon just isn’t very attractive to us humans.
Now, if the moon were filled with lush valleys and habitable land, we probably would have had hotels there by the ‘80s.
2. The weather is terrible.
The moon’s atmosphere is – and again, we mean no offense to the moon here – incredibly weak.
Because of this, the moon’s surface temperature can flip between 253 degrees (burning hot) to -387 degrees (extreme cold) Fahrenheit… in ONE day. Not to mention the dangerous weather patterns, including solar storms.
Oh, and by the way – even if the moon DID have normal temperatures, it hardly has any UV protection… so we’d get tanned almost instantly (and not in a good way).
(Just imagine how tough the moon weatherman’s job will be. “Today was a good day – I was only off by 150 degrees and three solar storms!”)
3. That whole zero-gravity thing makes things challenging.
Gravity – it really brings us down. But at the same time, it also brings everything else down… which is useful for, you know, keeping things – like buildings – from floating around aimlessly.
You can surely imagine the problems this may cause.
Moon wife: “Honey, are you sure you secured our house to the ground?”
Moon husband: “Yes, dear.”
Moon wife: “Are you SURE?”
Moon husband: “Yes… well, I mean, I’m going to do it today.”
Moon wife: “Well, now you’re going to have to wait until we land. And take the moon trash out!”
4. The moon’s surface is basically covered in knives
Not only does the moon’s surface lack fertile ground, it replaces it with a 40-mile crust of sharp rocks, topped by a layer of “regolith” – tiny dust particles that float around and get in the way of everything.
This would mean we would need to pave the entire planet just to get around, and we’d need to be protected from regolith at all times. And if you think a Chicago snowstorm is bad, wait until you wake up covered in moon dust – sandy, stabby, super-dangerous moon dust.
5. There are still so many unanswered questions
First off, what happens when things go wrong? Projects fail on Earth all the time – and we have home field advantage here. Imagine the complexity that would go into establishing a colony on the moon… and remember, aside from offering a bunch of dangerous empty space, it’s not even that great!
Second, can we even reproduce and raise children anywhere but Earth? We still don’t know! If you had to return to Earth just to have a baby, that would cause some serious problems.
Third… well, there are many more reasons, and the simple fact is that we don’t know enough about living on the moon to make a move-in mission viable.
OK, so we may not be moving in… but we WILL set up a gas station!
While we don’t have immediate plans to move to the moon, NASA does have plans to use that space. After all, it’s not easy to find 14.6 million square miles of free real estate so close by.
That’s why they’re going to use the moon as… a gas station! That’s right – NASA has plans to build a refueling station on the moon, which would be used in missions to mars.
So yes, the moon may become a giant Shell station before it even opens a hotel. It actually sounds like a good idea, considering the fact that Mars is a better prize. But here’s the real question: what sort of weird space snacks will be in the deli aisle?!
Got a question about technology?
Thanks again to R Guy Slater for his comment that inspired this article! We read all your comments and replies carefully, so keep ‘em coming.
If there’s something you’ve always been curious about, chances are we’ve wondered the same thing. Let us know below and we’ll research it for the both of us!
Victoria Morton says
This was a good critique on the moon, how about giving us the same kind of data on Mars, puh-lease! Dr, Victoria Morton
R Guy Slater says
OK. Great answers. But you leave a lot of the question on the table, needing answers. Here’s my thoughts.
The biggest reason to have not returned/colonized the Moon is a lack of will…from any country. No one country has been willing to spend the amounts necessary to do this. “But, what about private people doing this?” you ask? The biggest two reasons I can see is lack of (individual) money (Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson have the money, but I sure don’t!!!) and the physical resources necessary as “infrastructure” on the Earth Base end. How much money is it going to take to build a spaceport, if the Government will not allow the use of theirs? (Ask that to Branson in the State of New Mexico, for his answer.)
To rebut your answers, I would like you to consider these:
1. “No oxygen, water, food or life.” Yes, all will have to be carried to the Moon to start life, but once started, they can replicate themselves: Oxygen requires plants and photosynthesis, as long as the plants on the moon are protected from excess solar radiation, oxygen is going to be taken care of. Water? 2 molecules of Hydrogen and 1 molecule of Oxygen will combine to produce water. We do this in Middle School and Elementary School Science demonstrations, we CAN do this on the Moon. Food? Produce the first two, and you will be producing this. Food off the planet Earth will not, for many years, be animal based proteins, it’s hard enough to move ourselves through space, let alone the needed items for producing life. Egg and Sperm, Zygotes, Gametes, etc. It will take time, that’s all, and we, mankind, have sat on our laurels for 50 years, wasting time.
2. “The weather’s terrible.” Looked around Earth, lately? It isn’t always too pleasant here either. Can’t do much about the weather…on the outside, on the Moon, but who says we HAVE to stay on the surface? It will take engineering know-how, and a will to succeed to create a partial underground living area on the Moon, and there will be problems. But, we cannot conquer those problems on the Earth, nor can we conquer Lunar problems on Mars, or any other planet. But solutions to problems on the Moon may be easier to adapt to problems we will face on other planets, which will be beneficial.
3. “That whole zero-gravity thing makes things challenging.” 1st off, the Moon has gravity. It is about 17% (16.7%) of what we experience on Earth. And man (and probably our pets and our lab animals) will adapt in short order. We are doing that on the ISS at a relative Zero Gravity situation. And think of the overwhelming euphoria, at least for a while) of the slightly over-weight, pudgy scientist, who on Earth weighs 180 pounds, who jumps on the scale on the Moon, and finds out he/she weighs about 30 1/2 pounds!
4. “The moon’s surface is basically covered in knives.” Your point isn’t a really serious one for consideration. What you are saying is that, when we explore, we’ll have to be careful, and take precautions. And that is true of every experimental endeavor.
5. “There are still so many unanswered questions.” Are we going to get answers while sitting on Earth and NOT doing the experiment? There is only so much we can learn in the environment on Earth, about what takes place in an environment on the Moon. Ya gotta be there! Yes, experiments go wrong. They do so on Earth, and we have every reason to expect them to do so off Earth. And (gasp!) people DIE! And the willingness to die for the cause of exploration is what enables us to continue (at least at this point in time) to grow as a species. When fear prevents the species from exploration, the species will stagnate and eventually die. I’m sure other names will occur, but the most recognizable name in exploration, in death, has to be Christa McAuliffe, (Challenger Disaster, HS School Teacher/Astronaut) who died in 1986…EXPLORING!
“…can we even reproduce and raise children anywhere but Earth?” If we do not become, at least a partial, space faring race, we will never know. If we do not at least try, we are assuredly doomed to failure.
That “gas station” you envision, i envision a bit differently. Think of the visual difference that comes to mind with “gas station” and “truck stop.” “Truck stop,” to me conjures up a vaster operation, operated by a crew of people (vs. one or two at a “gas station.”) The cost of continued transportation of that “crew” might be enough that the Brand (in your case “Shell”) might look for long range contracts with their employees, so that the workers would stay “on-station” like they do on the ISS, for long periods of time.
“Hey, by Golly! We got ourselves a Lunar Colony!”
tim sharpe says
People are always envisioning some parked camper pod where we just go out for a stroll….. No. Unless you build a cave 30 meters deep and above or below the 50’th parallel of latitude, forget it. Most never mention the meteor pock marks that represent a non survival-able surface slam. We will live on the Moon after we send a delegation of multipurpose robots to completely set up the base prior to human long term arrival.
P.S. I have not seen any reasonable COST estimates either. We’re still in pie in the sky mode. We need a habitat in the Moroccan desert and one on the North pole just to start collecting good data estimates for cost and survivability. On top of that self sustainability has to be at the near perfect level. One crop failure and you won’t just be able to scoot to Walmart to recover.
John Coha says
Interesting topic and article. You mentioned the temperature differences between night and day, but you did not mention that day lasts for about 1/2 of a month, Earth time!
Gene'o Pickinpaugh says
I found this very interesting an definitely”food for thought”. Would like to see more of this type info. posted-thanks from an old Hippie!