August 23, 2017
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Science & Technology

NASA plans for lunar base structures being designed in Brazil

Sao Paulo, Jun 14 (efe-epa).- Among the 14 universities around the world that are designing living structures to be erected on the lunar or Martian surface to house future astronauts is the Sorocaba Engineering Faculty (Facens) in Brazil's Sao Paulo state.

After five months of intense work, 14 students and three professors at Facens, which is taking part in the Simulated Exploration Experience program, have been drawing up plans and making calculations with real data for four modules to house 16 astronauts.

"The idea is to simulate and model what NASA is really intending to build on the Moon ... out some years into the future," the head of the project, Andrea Braga, told EFE.

With a total area of 1,835 square meters (19,740 square feet), each living module contains bedrooms, bathrooms, a recreation room, an office and a machine room from where parameters such as oxygen, air pressure, energy and water, among others, can be controlled and monitored.

"The format is rounded precisely because physically it resists high pressures better. The walls would be made of several layers of different materials and would be resistant to support that pressure difference," Professor Andre Breda Carneiro explained.

The lunar city is not intended to have any corners because pressure would build up there over time that could cause the entire base to collapse if there were a breach or rupture.

The modules "are hermetically sealed," and to enter one you need to pass through a "depressurization" room that would adjust the pressure between the exterior - where the pressure would essentially be zero - and the livable interior.

"On the Moon, we don't have the natural protection that the atmosphere gives us on Earth. If a meteorite falls to Earth, it's burned up by the atmosphere, but on the Moon this doesn't happen," said Carneiro, adding that - if an impact occurs - a system of automatic doors would isolate each module to prevent the complete destruction of the base.

Living in space for long periods also affects the human body and, therefore, there is a gym in each module so that astronauts will be able to "maintain their muscle structure" and prevent the "heavy calcium loss" that human bones experience in reduced gravity, Carneiro said.

"Every Wednesday we have a meeting with engineers from NASA and the other universities," student Daniel Braga said.

After presenting its lunar habitat project to NASA, Facens is intending next year to participate in the new SEE program's project which, according to Braga, could have something to do with Mars, although no official confirmation of that has yet been issued.

At present, NASA plans are to begin building a lunar base in 2025 and then five years later to take another big step for humanity and set foot for the first time on Mars.

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