Hawai'i Space Grant Consortium, Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawai'i, 1996

Waste Management

To design and build a model waste management system for a human settlement on the Moon.

Key Words


biodegradable materials




"Moon ABCs Fact Sheet"

construction materials
such as cardboard boxes
and tubes, blocks, hoses,
straws, string, pins, rubber
bands, tape, etc.


Your school, in many ways, is like a miniature town. It has a system for governance, health care, traffic control, a work schedule for its inhabitants, recreation, AND waste disposal. To get a better idea of how much waste your school generates every week, find out how many students plus teachers, administrators, other staff (and animals, if any) are regularly in the buildings.

Next, interview the cafeteria staff and the custodial staff for the answers to these questions:

  1. (a) What gets thrown away?
  2. (b) How many pounds get thrown away every week? Calculate how many pounds of trash this is for every person in the school.
  3. (c) Are there any items which can be recycled before disposal? If yes, what are the recycled items?
  4. (d) What items are biodegradable?
  5. (e) What is the garbage/trash packed in for removal?
  6. (f) Where is it taken?
  7. (g) According to building codes, how many toilets must there be to accommodate all the people?
Waste is a "hot" topic in our society. Why? Discuss what you know about the following phrases: Excessive packaging, landfills, toxic waste, disposable plastic goods, nondegradable material, water pollution, and air pollution.

In movies like those starring "Indiana Jones," well preserved, ancient artifacts are often found in the desert. Scientists also find preserved artifacts in polar ice; for example, mastodons or ancient people. Why aren't they decayed?

Review the "Moon ABCs Fact Sheet." The Moonbase must be an enclosed, self-sustaining settlement. Just like your school, it must perform the basic functions of a town. Other teams are responsible for designing and constructing several other types of systems (air supply, communications, electricity, food production and delivery, recreation, temperature control, transportation, and water supply). Your team's job is to dispose of the waste which could be generated by these systems. Design a waste disposal system for the Moonbase. Be sure to decide what importance, if any, will be given to biodegradable materials, recycling, and the Moon outside of the constructed settlement.

Construct a model of this system based on your design. It must include the application of at least four facts from the "Moon ABCs Fact Sheet." For example, how will the Moon's gravity affect the design of your system? Maybe your system will be very heavy but still portable by only a few Moonbase workers because the Moon's gravity is only 1/6th Earth's gravity.
Make a detailed and labeled sketch of the model.

Go to "Moon ABCs Fact Sheet."

Return to Lunar Life Support.

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