Due to its proximity to Earth, the Moon is a promising candidate for the location of an extra-terrestrial human colony. In addition to being a high-fidelity platform for research on reduced gravity, radiation risk, and circadian disruption, the Moon qualifies as an isolated, confined, and extreme (ICE) environment suitable as an analog for studying the psychosocial effects of long-duration human space exploration missions and understanding these processes. In contrast, the various Antarctic research outposts such as Concordia and McMurdo serve as valuable platforms for studying biobehavioral adaptations to ICE environments, but are still Earth-bound, and thus lack the low-gravity and radiation risks of space. The International Space Station (ISS), itself now considered an analog environment for long-duration missions, better approximates the habitable infrastructure limitations of a lunar colony than most Antarctic settlements in an altered gravity setting. However, the ISS is still protected against cosmic radiation by the Earth magnetic field, which prevents high exposures due to solar particle events and reduces exposures to galactic cosmic radiation. On Moon the ICE environments are strengthened, radiations of all energies are present capable of inducing performance degradation, as well as reduced gravity and lunar dust. The interaction of reduced gravity, radiation exposure, and ICE conditions may affect biology and behavior - and ultimately mission success - in ways the scientific and operational communities have yet to appreciate, therefore a long-term or permanent human presence on the Moon would ultimately provide invaluable high-fidelity opportunities for integrated multidisciplinary research and for preparations of a manned mission to Mars.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science