A moon base in a ski resort in the French Alps

A moon base in a ski resort in the French Alps

Researchers tested this inflatable base in the French ski resort Tignes at the beginning of this year. This shelter, called Eurohab, should one day be located in the south polar region of the moon (and one day even on Mars).

After more than fifty years, NASA wants to put people on the moon again as part of the Artemis program. Eurohab could become part of that mission to the moon. Astronauts could use the shelters as a stopover to bridge distances between safe landing sites and places of interest to explore. Or as an emergency shelter for themselves and lunar robots.

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So while astronauts from NASA’s Apollo moon missions in the 1960s and 1970s landed close to the moon’s equator, Artemis takes people to the Antarctic. The moon’s south pole is an interesting landing site. Presumably there is water present, in the form of ice. This could be used as drinking water for future moon missions and permanent colonies. Hydrogen could also be made from it to use as fuel. The ancient moon rocks, which are probably also found in the Antarctic region, are interesting for geologists.

Photo Jeff Pachoud / AFP
Photo Jeff Pachoud / AFP

The cold and the crater-shaped frozen lake make Tignes, in the Alps, a good place to test whether Eurohab would do well on the moon’s south pole, although the conditions there are much more extreme than in the French snow. Because the moon’s axis is only slightly tilted by 1.5 degrees (for comparison: the Earth’s axis is tilted by about 23.5 degrees), the sun almost always shines only a few degrees above the horizon at the south pole . As a result, shadows become extremely long and the ground of some craters has not received sunlight for billions of years. Temperatures in those permanently shadowed craters are more than two hundred degrees below freezing.

Eurohab is being developed by the French start-up Spartan Space. In 2021, the company made the first prototype. The inflatable base must land in the lunar debris with a robot lander. Artemis won’t put humans on the moon until 2026 at the earliest.

Photo Jeff Pachoud / AFP




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