The next stage of human expansion will probably be into space, and the best place to start will be with a moon colony. Sure it's not as cool as Mars, but it's close by, which means easy rescue from Earth if things go wrong and a thriving tourism industry to support early colonization efforts. Maybe we can even build a space elevator to help people get there and back really quickly. Obviously we'd all love to visit the moon colony tomorrow, but it's not likely to exist for another 30 years at least. What can you put on your to-do list now to make sure the moon colony gets built faster?
To-Do List for Futurists: Create a Moon Colony
1. Today: Find out more about what's necessary to create a moon colony by reading about two experiments in contained-atmosphere colony life. On Earth, a group of people tried to live inside a completely sealed biodome to test out theories of dome life on other planets. They stayed inside Biosphere 2 for over two years. Read the first-person account of one of the survivors of the experiment, Jane Poynter. Her book is called The Human Experiment: Two Years and Twenty Minutes Inside Biosphere 2. Last year, a team at the International Space University came up with a plan for how they'd create an 11-person moon base. Their document is free online, and is called the Moon Colony Blueprint [PDF].
2. This week: Grow plants with LEDs. LEDs are low-energy, high-efficiency lights that feed your plants the exact chunk of spectrum they need to grow, without all that extra stuff that sucks up energy. For these reasons, it's almost certain that moon colonists will use LEDs to grow plants. You can help by starting an LED plant farm in your own home, and demonstrating the benefits. Instructables has a great tutorial on how to set up your own LED moonfarm.
3. This month: Many scientists believe that the best way to establish a moon colony will be to set up a space elevator which allows people to travel between Earth and the Moon very rapidly. A few companies are already prototyping materials for space elevators, and the Spaceward Foundation has an annual contest (with lots of prize money) for people who want to test components of a potential space elevator. Read all about it and get a team together to enter the space elevator competition this year. [The Spaceward Foundation]
4. This month: On the moon, colonists will have to recreate Earth nature from scratch, inside an artificial environment. They'll be trying to make a biosphere, containing plants, animals, and a system for recycling all waste back into the environment. Now you can help advance knowledge about biosphere dynamics by building a tabletop biosphere, a tiny version of what colonists might create on the moon under domes. Of course, Bre Pettis from MAKE magazine can explain it all for you. [MAKE]
5. This year: Enrich your brain and support the burgeoning commercial space industry by visiting a real-life space port. [Mojave Space Port]