Why The Moon Is A Much Worse Option For Living Than Mars
It’s so close, yet so far away
The moon hovers above us, enticing us, nay, begging us to come live on it. As it rises each night, it almost seems to whisper, “Why live on the planet when you can live on this,” and then it points to its round and inviting surface. But as much as the moon is pulling us to live on it, colonizing the moon comes with a lot of challenges – so many challenges that moon houses and moon hotels and moon theme parks will probably always be a thing of science-fiction.
The Earth is 71 percent water. The moon, not so much. So far, most theories about where to find water on the moon have been disproven. It was once believed that the moon’s polar craters were filled with ice. And when the Lunar Prospector spacecraft searched the Shackleton crater in the moon’s south pole, it found hydrogen atoms. The spacecraft was purposely crashed into the crater with the intention of unfreezing the frozen water, sending it shooting into the sky like a fire hydrant in the summer. That did not happen. So, if we wanted to live on the moon, we’d have to pack bottles and bottles of Evian.
Unlike Earth, the moon lacks an atmosphere. The lack of atmosphere means the moon lacks protection from meteorites and there’s nothing to breathe. While the air does contain a few components of our breathable air, there’s not enough of it for a person to take a deep breath without their lungs collapsing. Go figure, humans currently live on the planet that is able to sustain life without us needing to do anything.
Still, we could build artificial environments with water and air in order to survive. After all, people survive on the ISS which floats around in space, and space isn’t exactly known for its ample life-supporting resources. The price tag would be high – it costs $1.3 million to send just one pound of air to the moon – but we could do it.
But even if we had deep enough pockets to make it happen, we’d still have to deal with a big problem caused by a small thing. Moon dust. You know that whole lack of atmosphere thing? It also means there’s no erosion, which means that the moon has sharp sand. If you put Earth sand under a microscope, it looks round and smooth. Moon dust is craggy and can cut into your lungs. Even if the moon did have water, a walk on the beach would be no walk in the park.
Moon dust is also crazy toxic for humans. When Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt accidentally tracked moon dust in to the Challenger and then accidentally breathed it in, he ended up getting “lunar hay fever,” which gave him watery eyes, a sore throat, and a sneezing fit. A study published in GeoHealth found that even a tiny bit of replica moon dust is toxic enough to kill up to 90 percent of lung and brain cells. On top of that, it’s super cling. And it can float. As crazy as it sounds, the main reason why we might never live on the moon is that it’s “too dusty.”
If we’re going to live on not-the-Earth, Mars might be a better bet. It’s legitimately a planet, and while we might still have to work out how we’re going to breathe on it, we won’t have to deal with the dust issues.