“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” the famous words of Neil Armstrong, when he stepped on the moon, and looks like Countries around the world are taking this whole Giant Leap bit a little too seriously, America, Russia and Japan all are on a race to try and build a moon base by 2020, and of course since building on the moon by humans might be a bit of a task, they have chosen a whole load of robots to actually do this exercise. Japan the latest to join in the race, has already set the ambitious goal of putting robots on the Moon by 2015, and it’s only natural that they should have a place to hang out while they’re up there. The solar-powered base will be constructed by 660-pound robots on the satellite’s south pole, and it’ll serve as a central station for all manner of robot-conducted Moon experiments.
But this is not the ultimate plan, a bit of net snooping on the Japan space mission tells us that they have an idea so crazy it might work: a solar plant on the Moon. Specifically, a 6,800 mile long solar belt that spans the Moon’s equator and sends energy back to Earth with lasers and microwave power. Virtually inexhaustible, nonpolluting solar energy is the ultimate source of green energy that brings prosperity to nature as well as our lives.
Japanese firm Shimizu is calling their lunar solar power generation concept the Luna Ring and it’s brilliantly ambitious. The way the Luna Ring works is by gathering solar energy with a 6,800 mile long solar belt across the Moon’s equator that’ll be transmitted to Moon-based energy conversion facilities. The converted power will then be beamed to Earth-based facilities with laser power and microwave power. Once on Earth, we’ll be able turn all that power into electric power for our power grids or hydrogen fuel. Robots will handle the lunar-side construction with most building materials coming from the moon. The benefit of having solar panels on the Moon is that it eliminates inefficiency due to bad weather and allows it to achieve 24/7 continuous power generation.
Humans will barely be involved–all construction will be taken care of by robots with oversight from astronauts. The company explains that, “Water can be produced by reducing lunar soil with hydrogen that is imported from the Earth. Cementing material can also be extracted from lunar resources. These materials will be mixed with lunar soil and gravel to make concrete. Bricks, glass fibers and other structural materials can also be produced by solar-heat treatments.”
Compelling ideas, to be sure, but we’d like to see evidence that any of this is possible. If we can’t get robots to fix an oil spill 5,000 feet below the ocean’s surface, how can we possibly expect them to build a gigantic solar power plant on the moon? Even if this whole scheme was proven possible, the costs would be astronomical. Still, we can’t fault Shimizu for being ambitious. And while a 6,800 mile solar belt may be far-fetched, that doesn’t mean a more reasonably-sized solar power plant can’t someday end up on the moon.