Can we terraform the Moon to make it habitable for humans? Can we create lakes and environments for us to live in on the Moon to make it look a little more like this?

Well, according to research, while it is possible, there might be some challenges along the way that make us wonder if it is worth it. Because of its proximity to Earth, the Moon would be the easiest and cheapest place to terraform. However, the Moon does have its problems as well, such as its gravity and its lack of atmosphere.  I chose this question because of the news on climate change, global warming, and the recent concern for overpopulation. While these problems aren’t urgent right now, that doesn’t they never will be and I wondered that if the worst happens, would we be able to terraform the Moon to create sort of a “second Earth” and live there?

First of all, why the Moon and not Mars? Well, the Moon is only three days away, so transporting equipment and people on it wouldn’t be as expensive as transferring them to Mars.(4) Also, we have been to the Moon before, so it should be easier to go back there rather than relying on uncharted territory. However, in order to live on the Moon, we would need it to have a atmosphere to retain heat and air. Luckily, we are able to artificially create an atmosphere by bombarding the surface with comets; doing this would also give the Moon enough momentum to move at an Earth-like cycle, making it easier to get used to.(4) This video explains this process pretty well:

Trying to create this atmosphere on the Moon would be much quicker than trying to create one on Venus or Mars because it would take less comets.(4) Besides all of this, recently, scientists have even found traces of lunar water mixed into the Moon’s soil. If we could somehow use this water to make fuel for radiation shielding or thermal management, then settling on the Moon would be much easier  cheaper than doing so on Venus or Mars.(1) So, yes, in theory we could terraform the Moon to make it habitable for humans.

So, if we are able to terraform the Moon, why haven’t we done so yet? Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Of course, a huge setback is the cost of terraforming the Moon and how long it would take to do so. Not many governments are capable or willing to give up their time and money for such a huge project, and the progress would require a multi-generational commitment, which means it is unlikely to continue going even if we made some progress.(4) Not only that, but even if we were to fully terraform the Moon, it’s sun exposure would make it feel like living in Florida but with one-sixth of the Earth’s gravity, which isn’t a very comfortable environment.(3) Besides the cost of creating a whole new atmosphere on the Moon, there is also the issue of gravity. The Moon’s low gravity would have trouble holding the atmosphere, and what’s worse, the Moon has no global magnetic field to protect the surface from solar wind erosion and radiation, which would make it even more expensive and near impossible to live there.(2) Not to mention that we don’t know what kind of problems would arise in the human body for living in microgravity environments for an extended period of time or how it would affect developing fetuses.(4)

In conclusion, can we terraform the Moon to make it habitable for humans? Well according to the sources, yes. In theory, we would be able to terraform the Moon by striking comets onto its surface and creating an atmosphere, but should we do it? In my opinion, this kind of commitment isn’t worth it. It would take a long time to create an atmosphere on the Moon, and the gravity is so low that we don’t even know if it would work. We also don’t know how living in space would affect us, especially because the Moon has no global magnetic field to protect the surface from radiation. Not to mention the Lunar water actually only comes out during certain times of the day, making it unreliable.(1) I believe the risks of trying to do this outweigh the benefits and the huge time and money commitment that would be used to terraform the Moon could be used to do better things for society, such as protecting the Earth we already live on. So, while living on the Moon sounds like a fun vacation on paper, in reality, terraforming the Moon wouldn’t be a worthwhile project because it’s expensive and very unpredictable.

 

References

  1. Can humans live on the Moon? 11 March 2019. Web. 7 January 2020. <https://www.theweek.co.uk/space/100126/can-humans-live-on-the-moon>.
  2. Dorminey, Bruce. Why The Moon Should Never Be Terraformed. 27 July 2016. Web. 7 January 2020. <https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucedorminey/2016/07/27/why-the-moon-should-never-be-terraformed/#4ec91be84ed9>.
  3. “What If We Terraformed the Moon?” What If, 2018. Video. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2M5cavBR5Zc>.
  4. Williams, Matt. Universe Today. 31 March 2016. Web. 7 January 2020. <https://www.universetoday.com/121140/could-we-terraform-the-moon/>.

 

Core Competency Reflection

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