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Moonscapes

Living on the moon. A dream of many, we all have built houses in our minds for our science fiction futures but until now that has also been one of the biggest hurdles.

Consider your future moon house for a minute. Now think about all the materials that you will require to build this house. The biggest question here would be how you would get all those materials on the moon? The more materials you need to take up to the moon, the more expensive your project will become. In the end, the cost of building a house will end your project before it has started.

But if you are adament to build a house (or even a colony) on the moon how would you do it?

If you are lucky enough to have USC Professors Behrokh Khoshnevis (Engineering), Anders Carlson (Architecture), Neil Leach (Architecture), and Madhu Thangavelu (Astronautics) on speed dial then your moon house might just become a reality.

According to them you can cut the cost of transporting materials to the moon by building your moon base out of the moon itself. Secondly labour is expensive, even more so if you have transport your labourers to the moon. Solution? Use robots to build the base and keep humans out of the process until the very last minute.



Does this sound a little far fetched? It did until the USC professors recently completed their first research visualisation for a system which can do exactly that.

By using a technique called contour crafting, the professors propose sending robots to seed the surface of the moon with the basic infrastructure for a moon base, such as landing pads, roads, hangers and so forth. After this step has been completed by the robots the human crew can be blasted off into space and could take up residence in their new home.



Contour crafting is not an entirely alien concept as it is effectively 3-D printing. A robot arm extrudes concrete while automated trowels smooth the material into place. On earth, this method promises low-cost, individually customised house-construction. This is the same promise that 3-D printers gives to object creation, only now it takes on an architectural scale.

On the moon, the basic idea is enhanced fully mobile crafting bots and by on-site quarrying and processing--as it turns out, moon rock has almost all the basic ingredients for concrete. "We will melt the lunar sand and rocks and extrude, the same way some rocks are made naturally on earth from volcanic lava," says Dr. Khoshnevis.

The idea of contour crafting is fascinating as this method has been suggested as a solution to low cost housing as well as building a colony on the moon. The videos shows houses which can be built very traditionally and in others the construction is curvy.

It seems that the imagination is the limit. And we are beyond excited about the idea that we might one day be able to see earth from our moon bedrooms.


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