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Survival on the Moon Scenario

The year is 2025. You and your crew are traveling toward the Moon in the Orion spacecraft. Orion is a
gumdrop-shaped spacecraft designed to carry people from Earth to the Moon. Orion is similar in shape,
but larger than the capsules used during the Apollo program. Attached, or docked, to Orion is the Lunar
Surface Access Module (LSAM), which you alone will use to land on the Moon (other crew members
remain onboard the Orion).

As your spacecraft enters lunar orbit, you spot the lunar outpost. This outpost has grown, having been
built piece by piece during past missions. You are excited to see the outpost. It is located on a crater rim
near the lunar south pole, in near-constant sunlight. This location is not far from supplies of water ice
that can be found in the cold, permanently shadowed part of the crater.

After transferring into the LSAM and separating from Orion, you prepare to descend to the lunar
surface. Suddenly, you notice that there is a problem with the thrusters. You land safely, but off course,
about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the lunar outpost. Looking across the charcoal-gray, dusty surface
of the Moon, you realize that your survival depends on reaching the outpost, finding a way to protect
yourself until someone can reach you, or meeting a rescue party somewhere between your landing site
and the outpost.

You know the Moon has basically no atmosphere or magnetosphere to protect you from space
radiation. The environment is unlike any found on Earth. The regolith, or lunar soil, is a mixture of
materials that includes sharp, glassy particles. The gravity field on the Moon is only one-sixth as strong
as Earth’s. More than 80 percent of the Moon is made up of heavily cratered highlands. Temperatures
vary widely on the Moon. It can be as cold as –193°C (–315°F) at night at its poles and as hot as 111°C
(232°F) during the day at its equator.

Instructions

Survival will depend on your mode of transportation and ability to navigate. Your basic needs for food,
shelter, water, and air must be considered. Your challenge is to choose items that will help you survive.

Part I: Individual Decision


The scoring sheet below lists 15 items in alphabetical order that are available to you. In the “Your
Ranking” column, rank these items from 1 to 15 according to your own beliefs and knowledge about
their importance to you and your team (other members of the crew). Place the number 1 beside the
most important item and continue ranking the items to number 15, the least important. Be prepared to
explain why you gave each item the rank it received and how you plan to use the item to help you
survive.

Survival on the Moon Scoring Sheet

ITEMS

(alphabetical order) Your Ranking Team Ranking Expert Ranking Your

Score TEAM Score

First aid kit: a basic kit with pain medication and medicine for infection _______

_______

_______

_______ _______

Food: dehydrated concentrate to which water is added

_______

_______ _______ _______ _______

Life raft: a self-inflatable flotation device _______

_______

_______

_______ _______

Magnetic compass: a tool that uses a magnetic field to determine direction _______

_______

_______

_______ _______

Map: document showing the Moon’s surface/terrain

_______
_______ _______ _______ _______

Matches (box of): wooden sticks with sulfur-treated heads

_______

_______ _______ _______ _______

Oxygen: two 45.5-kilogram (100-pound) tanks

_______

_______ _______ _______ _______

Parachute: a large piece of silk cloth

_______

_______ _______ _______ _______

Portable lights: with solar-powered rechargeable batteries

_______

_______ _______ _______ _______

Radio receiver-transmitter: a solar-powered communication instrument

_______

_______ _______ _______ _______

Rope: 15 meters (approx. 50 feet) of nylon rope

_______

_______ _______ _______ _______

Signal mirror: a handheld mirror

_______

_______ _______ _______ _______

Space blanket: a thin sheet of plastic material that is coated with a metallic reflecting layer

_______

_______ _______ _______ _______


Space suit repair kit: kit with materials to repair tiny holes in fabric

_______

_______ _______ _______ _______

Water: one 38-liter (10-gallon) container

_______

_______ _______ _______ _______

TOTAL SCORE:

(sum scores within the column)

_______

_______

Page 245

Part II: Team Decision

After everyone working alone has ranked these 15 items, the instructor will organize students into
approximately equal sized teams. Team members should try to reach a consensus on the rank order of
each of these 15 items. Place the number 1 beside the most important item and continue ranking the
items to number 15, the least important. Record this ranking of items in the “Team Ranking” column.
Your survival depends on the team’s ability to agree on the importance of these items, as well as logical
explanation of their value and how to use them.

Part III: Total Scores

After the items have been ranked by teams, your instructor will report how the 15 items were ranked
NASA scientists (experts). Write these rankings under the “Expert Ranking” column. Next, calculate the
absolute difference (remove the negative sign) between your ranking and the expert’s ranking for each
of the 15 items and record these scores in the “Your Score” column. Sum these 15 absolute differences
to determine your personal total score. Determine your team’s score in the same manner using the
“Team Score” column. Write these scores and summary statistics into the spaces at the bottom of the
scoring sheet for those two columns.

Discussion Questions

Did most team members have higher (worse) or lower (better) total scores than the total “team
score”? Why did this difference occur?

In what situations, if any, would someone’s total personal score be very similar to the total team
score? Did this occur for anyone on your team? Why?

When the team was ranking items, which items had the most difference of opinion regarding the
item’s importance? Why did this disagreement occur, and how was it resolved by the team?

While the team was determining the collective ranking of items, did specific team members take on
specific roles, such as leading the discussion, encouraging opinions from quieter members, managing
conflict, and so forth? If so, why do you think these people took on these roles?

Was your team composed mostly of people you have worked with previously in teams? If so, do you
think the discussion was more effective or less effective than when making decisions with people who
are new to you? Why?

Source: National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Survival on the Moon: Expert Ranking and Explanations NOTE: NASA received independent results from
two experts. Their ranking was identical on the top 7 items and three others (i.e. 10 items ranked the
same). Only one or two rank difference occurred on four other items. Only the life raft had a larger
difference (8th vs 12th rank). The ranking list below relies on the first expert’s ranking, but presents
explanation for both experts (indicated by “E1” and E2”). There is no information suggesting that one
expert is more accurate than the other, but they are remarkably similar in ranking and explanation for
almost all items.

Expert Ranking Item Explanations

1 Oxygen: Two 45.5-kilogram (100 pound) tanks

E1. With basically no atmosphere on the Moon, oxygen (O2) to breathe is the most pressing survival
need. The average person needs about 0.84 kilograms (a little less than 2 pounds) of O2 per day.

E2. Oxygen to breathe is the most important survival need, since the Moon has virtually no
atmosphere.
2 Water: one 38 liter (10 gallon) container

E1. Though we believe there is some water in the form of ice on the Moon, there is no liquid water.
Water is essential to all life. Currently, each astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS) uses
about 11 liters (3 gallons) of water daily.

E2. Water is another basic survival need for the astronauts. Because there is no liquid water on the
Moon, the astronauts will need the water they brought with them to survive.

3 Food: dehydrated concentrate to which water is added

E1. Food concentrate is a good source of food and an efficient way to carry it.

E2. Although the food concentrate must have water added to be useful, it is lightweight and easy to
carry, meeting a third basic need for survival.

Radio receiver-transmitter: a solar-powered communication instrument

E1. Hopefully people from the lunar outpost are looking for you while you are trying to reach them.
A solar- powered radio receiver-transmitter is important to maintain this communication.

E2. As people from the lunar outpost are looking for you, you should try to reach them. Maintaining
communication with your outpost is essential.

First aid kit: a basic kit with pain medication and medicine for infection

E1. No matter where you are, a first aid kit is a good idea. Be sure you carry pain medication and
medicine for infections.

E2. A first aid kit takes up little space and may be important to have in case of illness or injury.

6 Map: document showing the Moon's surface/terrain

E1. A map of the Moon’s surface is your primary way to identify your location and to help you
navigate.

E2. With no other directional tools available, a map of the Moon’s surface is the most important
means of finding your way from one location to another.

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distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education.

Chapter 8: Team Dynamics


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Space suit repair kit: kit with materials to repair tiny holes in fabric

E1. You cannot afford to have any tears in your space suit. Your suit protects you from harsh
conditions while you make your way to the lunar outpost. The soil of the Moon (regolith) ‘sticks’ to
space suits and equipment. It is very sharp, like tiny fragments of glass or coral, and can cut holes that
put your life at risk.

E2. Your space suit protects you from the harsh conditions on the Moon. The sharp soil of the Moon
can cut tiny holes in the suit, which may compromise its effectiveness.

8 Rope: 15 meters (approx 50 feet) of nylon rope

E1. The nylon rope is useful in scaling cliffs or craters you may have to cross. To prevent injury or in
case you cannot walk, rope is helpful for tying you to others.

E2. The rope makes dragging the life raft easier or may come in handy when crossing difficult
terrain. (Ranked 10)

Space blanket: a thin sheet of plastic material that is coated with a metallic reflecting layer

E1. The space blanket helps reduce heat loss from a person’s body. The reflective material reflects
about 80 percent of the wearer’s body heat back to the body. The reflected side is also used to prevent
absorption of sunlight.

E2. The space blanket is used to insulate the oxygen and water from the hot daytime temperatures.
Temperatures vary widely on the Moon. It can be as cold as -193°C (-315°F) at night at its poles and as
hot as 111°C (232°F) during the day at its equator.

10 Signal mirror: a handheld mirror

E1. The signal mirror is an important way to communicate during the daylight. The Moon’s daylight
is brighter and harsher than Earth’s. There is virtually no atmosphere to scatter the light, no clouds to
shade it, and no ozone layer to block the sun burning ultraviolet light.

E2. The signal mirror is used as a form of communication if the radio is not working. (Ranked 12)

11

Portable lights: with solarpowered rechargeable batteries

E1. These lights allow for nighttime travel. The nights on the Moon are brighter than nights on
Earth, at least on the side of the Moon that is facing Earth. With its clouds and oceans, Earth reflects
more light than the dark Moon rocks. Earthlight on the Moon is much brighter than moonlight on Earth.
E2. The lights are helpful if you travel across large shadowed areas. Some areas in the polar regions
are permanently dark.

12 Life raft: a self-inflatable flotation device

E1. A life raft is of little use for survival on the Moon. Although it could be used to drag heavy items,
the sharp regolith would quickly puncture the raft.

E2. The life raft makes a great sled for carrying the oxygen and water. (Ranked 8)

Expert Ranking Item Explanations

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distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education.

Chapter 8: Team Dynamics

13 Parachute: a large piece of silk cloth

E1. Compared to other items, this item is of little use.

E2. Parachute silk comes in handy as a backup sled to the life raft, or as shade.

14

Magnetic compass: a tool that uses a magnetic field to determine direction

E1. The Moon has no global magnetic field, which makes a magnetic compass virtually useless.

E2. The compass is virtually useless because there is no Moonwide magnetic field. (Ranked 15)

15

Matches (box of): wooden sticks with sulfur-treated heads

E1. Matches are virtually useless on the Moon because there is little oxygen.

E2. With little oxygen on the Moon, the matches are useless. (Ranked 14)