I've seen this before...
Will Martin Landau be the commander of the moonbase?
Mine's the one with the Eagle insignia on it.
/13 September 1999 -- Never Forget!
I see the moon/The moon sees me/Down through the leaves of the old oak tree/Please the the light that shines on me/Be home to fission surface power technology The Moon is terrific as far as desolate orbiting rocks go, but by all accounts it's rather lacking in the nuclear power generator department. Which is a shame because …
A fission reactor located at such a distant outpost would need to be small, simple, and safe, with high durability and a preponderance of graceful failure modes.
Thus, niceties such as control rods and primary coolant pumps are off the table.
One of the interesting designs that fit these criteria is the pebble bed fission reactor. Small, round slugs of radioactive material are encased within spherical graphite "pebbles", which are between a golf ball and bocce ball in size.
Toss a bunch o' pebbles in a sturdy sealed can, fill it up with an appropriate heat transfer fluid (in the physics/chemistry sense - such as steam), hook up some tubing to carry the fluid, and bury the whole kit in the backyard. Voila! A self-moderating, low-maintenance, unobtrusively quiet power plant. (Not that you would hear much outdoors on the Moon, but you get the idea...)
Why not? You could erect quite a large windmill in 1/6 g space. Take quite a bit less steel. Solar would work as well, no atmosphere to bog things down.
What? No atmosphere, no wind, dark 14 days in a row. Small details!
Another idea: Scale up one of those black/white in globe things. It might even work. You just need large white panels (4) with black facings on the obverse. A nice bearing, and away it goes. With no atmosphere, it would spin quite nicely!
you know, like in those space probes.
It would make sense to use them (and it would take several), as a baseline power supply for stuff like the life support systems. Even if you end up using a full reactor for the bulk of your needs, isotope thingies track record of reliability makes them an ideal choice.
After all, if they have problems while facing away from the sun (assuming the base is not at the poles? Does the moon have a tilt relative to the sun?). Its either sealed-unit-with-reliable-output-for-30-years or its bycicles and dynamos, assuming food+o2 will last long enough to get main power back online.
I apologise for any lack of sense making.
The first design is by Sunpower Inc, of Athens Ohio. It's described as using two opposed piston engines coupled to alternators that produce 6 kilowatts each
Perhaps you might want to give this a name? Its a stirling Engine, more specifically a free piston stirling engine, powered by radioisotope emmission, and called the Stirling Radioisotope Generrator, or SRG for short.
More on the wikiweb http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stirling_Radioisotope_Generator
No atmosphere and a lack of easily renewable water is going to make cooling this thing very very difficult. And the moons has some pretty wild temperature swings, which will mess with any kind of heat engines output pretty badly.
I guess you could supplement with solar in the daytime when a nuke plant would be less efficient though.
Sod the meteors! What about the monthly quakes that happen??
In my heart, I truly want the moon to have somesort of highly technical space port there, but in reality, I think it'll prove to be not the best idea...
@E: I think I'm right in saying the the core is solid, yes, but the outer core is still fluid? Drilling down would be pretty labourious and down-right dangerous. Maybe someone with larger frontal lobes can elaborate my thinking...
I'd like to see human kind apply the greatest minds to building a working "technology demonstration unit" which would enable us to live sustainably on this rock please. I for one would rather stabilize our growth (population etc.) to levels we can continue with on this planet, than continue to waste trillions of $$$ "reaching for the stars" when the support our technological 'ladder' is perched on, good 'ol mother earth, is vandalized before our eyes.
But then of course, in time, should we continue down this road, mother earth will do the good thing and erase human kind from existence through famine, pestilence, disease, climatic catastrophe and with a little help from our war-mongering greedtard capitalist overlord medievalist theologians.
(Mine's the one with "The End is Nigh" on the back and front)
I would like to Second the Excellence in Es Excellent Rendition. ...... Posted Friday 12th September 2008 05:12 GMT ...... and would Warrant and Support ITs Virtual Commission/Earthly TransMissions for Transitional Change/Traditional Methodology.
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you mean a radiothermal generator?
Sounds okay- half-life of ~90 years, 1kg of fuel = 1kW if it's a good efficient one.
Like you say, it would be less practical for main power generation. But a collection of them would be a good idea for powering the life-support systems, basic comms with earth and so on.
And a nice helium-3 fusion reactor providing most of the power. If that worked, how about a power-sat network that would take a very powerful microwave beam from the Moon's fusion power grid and bounce it around to receiver stations on the surface of the earth? Good green (cheap!) electrons for all! The ability to provide power to rocket propulsion systems from above them (lowering losses and almost removing fuel costs)!
Conveient power for some sort of _good_ orbital base (I'm thinking more the Enterprise E than the ISS- with the better space-lifter tech there'd be less constraints on size/shape/weight of components)
And an effective weapon against anyone who dares piss off the guy controlling the satellites :P
The vulture got caught in the Microwave beam, unfortunately :(
Oh no the old SNAP's will be taken out of storage from a place called Hanford , Washington State and place on the big old but reliable Russian Launcher(US ones from M-T have a tendency go bang on the ground and there is no one left at NASA or the contractors left with the knowledge to build the Saturn Series again) .
So why are we starting the cold war again ?
Eh? Why on Gods offwhite moon would you want cooling towers on the moon? First of all, ambient temperature on the moon spans over 200C so during the day you'd struggle to cool the steam below 100C, and at night it'd freeze solid in the pipes.
Second, (and I may be mistaken here) there is no water cycle on the moon, so venting water vapour into the "atmosphere" is kind of a waste.
The other problem is of course you need cooling towers for larger scale reactors. Larger scale reactors require more fuel. Ppl living in the middle of the Pacific and (especially) in Russia tend to get a bit twitchy if the Americans throw >15kg of fissile material up into space. To be honest a lot of other ppl do too...
would be to put a polar generating station on the moon with radial "arms" spread out on both the light side and dark side. With the proper fluid (water with antifreeze?) the 400F temperature differential that is continuously available should be able to provide all the power you need. Of course you would need some kind of backup system for those pesky eclipses, but that is what batteries are for ;)
I thought I suggested we “apply the greatest minds” to the problems in our own backyard. Those most likely to be scientific I guess in order to apply material solutions.
Those are biilions of dollars being spent you know;
I think you will find that since 2004 NASA's budget has been around the 10$B mark. Whilst the war on terror and homeland security have been netween 480$B – 670$B (“war mongering”), many times more. High energy Physics has faced cut backs recently with US research on the fussion reactor project being at about 300$M, a paltry sum.
What I suggest is we realign our goals for technology and kick out the drivers which are primarily focused on commercial benefit, not the longterm future of human kind.
Remember - “Whatever your cause, it's a lost cause, unless we limit population”
The lunar surface is a good place to put unshielded radioactive things. After all, the place is constantly deluged with radiation from the Sun anyway.
If the radiation worries you that much, just dig a deep hole and bury the thing. It's not like there's any risk of groundwater contamination.
Putting a nuclear reactor in an area that has alternate freezing/heating ranges of over 100 degrees? Can the system physically handle that added heat/freeze alternation without suffering material stress, breaking and subsequently melting down?
Go figure, nuking the Moon before we even set up our first settlement. Stupid.
And yes, I know it's tiny. It's the thought that counts. The thought from the same minds who said that all the space junk would burn up in the atmosphere that they're currently tracking in orbit, and that the Challenger was ready to fly that one day. I want full specifications before I even think of signing on to such an idea.