The United States and China are preparing to settle permanently on the moon, but they face challenges such as cosmic radiation and moonquakes. Missions are planned to better understand these phenomena, especially to the lunar south pole. At ISAE-Supaero, researchers are working on a permanent presence of humans on the Moon, and a team is studying tools to detect earthquakes and meteorite impacts, in order to assess the risks to future human bases on the Moon. Rafael Garcia, researcher in planetary geophysics at ISAE-Supaero, explains to us the importance of studying lunar earthquakes.
While the United States is working to return to the moon, within the Artemis program, and China is also preparing for it, these ambitious projects face many technological, operational, logistical, and “environmental” challenges. Among the main natural obstacles to human existence in the long term, we will mention cosmic radiation, which is the subject of in-depth studies to determine effective protection solutions, and lunar earthquakes.
Missions ApolloApollo Existence revealed Lunar earthquakesLunar earthquakesdue to the gradual cooling of our satellite, which led to the formation of cracks in it coatcoat And causing the Earth's movements. Although this EarthquakesEarthquakes Not caused by movements Tectonic platesTectonic plates As on Earth, they can however cause LandslidesLandslides Earth and endangering the stability of human infrastructure on the moon.
Conducting seismic measurements in Antarctica
In order to anticipate Seismic risksSeismic risks And those associated with meteorite impacts on the Moon, especially in Antarctica where most human activity should be concentrated when it comes to long stays and permanent presence, and research into SeismologySeismology They are in class.
US and Chinese space agencies are planning missions aimed at better understanding the Moon's seismic activity. The Chinese Chang'e 7 mission mentioned in a previous article will land in 2026 on the illuminated edge of the Shackleton Crater located in the South Pole, while NASA is financing and participating in the lunar lander from Draper, which will land in 2025 in the Schrödinger Crater, near the South Pole of the Moon but… On the underside. These two missions will begin SeismographsSeismographs To record the rhythm and strength of lunar earthquakes over a long period, making it possible to assess their intensity and better understand the geological structure of the Moon.
Did you know ?
Lunar seismology began with the Apollo missions, but for 50 years no lunar seismometer had been deployed, so the development of new seismometers is facilitated because we already know what types of signals and what types of processing we will be able to handle. They do this thanks to the Apollo experiments.
During the Apollo missions, the intensity of the strongest lunar quakes measured was similar to that of earthquakes. MagnitudeMagnitude 5.5 on the floor.
In this regard, ISAE-Supaero researchers are involved in programs aimed at addressing technical challenges related to sustainable human presence on the Moon. Thus, the Space Systems Research Group for Planetary Science and its group ApplicationsApplications Focuses on lunar seismology, particularly with instrumentation Farside Seismic Pavilion (FSS) aboard the Draper lander. This robotic suite, provided by Jet Propulsion LaboratoryJet Propulsion Laboratory-NASA also benefits from the contribution of the CNES Center and Institute physicalphysical Of the globe Paris, which provides one of SensorsSensors From the Seis instrument backup model for the InSight mission (2018).
As Rafael Garcia, researcher in the Lunar Seismology Group at ISAE-Supaero, FSS, explains to us “ It mainly aims to characterize the internal structure of the Schrondinger Crater, the presence or absence of earthquakes on the far side of the Moon, and the risks of meteorites to future operations on the Moon's surface. “. This set of tools will enable” Detecting earthquakes and meteorite impacts, providing insight into the Moon's interior “.
The research group to which Rafael Garcia belongs is also involved in this project lunar earthquakeearthquake service Who will be responsible for Detecting earthquakes and meteorite impacts using the data collected, and the interior of the moon will also be photographed using this data “.data” Helping to better understand the internal structure of our satellite and assess risks to future human installations “.
In order to anticipate the possible effects of a meteorite impact or earthquake on the surface of the moon, Rafael Garcia would like to point out that “ Seismology research is conducted around developing instruments aimed at exploring earthquakes OscillationsOscillations of lunar soil but also the first meters beneath the Moon's surface “. Concretely, SeismologistsSeismologists ” We are working to ensure that these tools can be installed in the future AstronautsAstronauts Lunar missions, but also through future missions RoboticsRobotics from'European Space AgencyEuropean Space Agency In which a sounding instrument near the surface is used (Lacey L The LunAr SeiSmIc trial was recently shortlisted “.
Data from these devices must ” It allows us to answer many questions regarding the size and existence of the Moon's core SilicatesSilicates The melt at the base of the lunar mantle, or the amount of ice trapped beneath the surface “This information will also provide the opportunity to evaluate” The danger of small meteorite impacts on future lunar habitats “.
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