This artist’s concept depicts a vision of a future Moon settlement assembled from semi-buried inflatable habitats. They would be located near the lunar poles in regions of near-perpetual solar illumination. Mirrors positioned above each habitat would reflect sunlight into greenhouses within the doughnut-shaped habitats.
Pneumocell in Austria, an inflatable structures specialist, performed a system study of an inflatable lunar habitat, based on prefabricated ultralight structures.
Once inflated, these habitats would be buried under 4-5 m (13-16 feet) of lunar regolith for protection from radiation and micrometeorites. A truss holding a mirror membrane would be erected above each habitat. It would be designed to rotate to follow the Sun throughout the sky. Sunlight from the mirror would be directed down through an artificial crater, from which another cone-shaped mirror reflects it into the surrounding greenhouse.
The study was supported through the Discovery element of ESA’s Basic Activities. It came about after Pneumocell submitted their idea to the Agency’s Open Space Innovation Platform, OSIP, seeking out promising ideas for space research from all possible sources.