For those who are not aware Artemis is a book by Andy Weir set on the lunar surface. It is an of Earth colony featuring people from all walks of life including a Saudi Arabian Smuggler/Moon Walker-in-training, the main lead. Apart from its incredibly diverse range of characters and their interesting dynamics, the book also feature several scientific “facts” to make the plot come together. The question is, are they possible?
There are quite a few to discuss but here are some that can be easily explained.
What are Slugs? – “It’s short for soft-landed grams. S-L-G. Slug. One slug gets one gram of cargo delivered from Earth to Artemis, courtesy of KSC.”
And 1 USD can purchase approximately 6 SLGs. About 167 USD per kilo.
So can we transport material to space at this cost now?
Can you extract Oxygen from moon rocks?
Most of the rocks in the lunar highlands are anorthite, which when smelted produces aluminum for building – “Sanchez Aluminum’s smelter outside town produces oxygen from processing ore. That’s what smelting is, really. Removing oxygen to get pure metal.”
A simple chemical equation for the same is shown in the image.
This is a widely used electrolysis process that shows that is is possible to remove the oxygen from the Aluminium ore.
Read more about it here – https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/zxyq4qt/revision/4
Kenya is the center of the global space industry for a reason. They’re on the Equator. This makes it much more affordable to launch into low Earth orbit – thats why most NASA launch sites are in Florida. The rotation of the Earth is helping you by giving approximatley one-fifteenth of the total velocity required just by being on the Equator.
Read more about it here – http://www.qrg.northwestern.edu/projects/vss/docs/navigation/2-why-launch-from-equator.html
The taste of coffee is “disgustingly cold,”.
That’s because water boils at lower temperatures in Artemis’ lower air pressure – “Artemis’s air is pure oxygen at 20 percent Earth’s air pressure.” and “ Water boils at 61 degrees Celsius here, so that’s as hot as tea or coffee can be.”
This page explains it simply – https://socratic.org/questions/how-do-atmospheric-pressure-and-elevation-affect-boiling-point
So what about ZAFO? Zero Attenuation Fiber Optics (ZAFO) is, in simpler terms, a data transferring cable with zero net loss which can only be made in space. There may be some truth to this as well as seen in the following NASA video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=ZnU7y3xIYMM
Producing the glass in lower gravity mean that there are less defects so better overall quality and hence less loss, but if the loss can be brought down to zero is still unclear.
Another thing the book states about these cables is – “Normal fiber-optic lines can only be fifteen kilometers long. After that, the signal’s just too weak to continue. So you need repeaters.”
Which is quite false, because currently these cables can work quite well upto 100km distance without repeaters.
To read more abut fiber optics – https://electronics.howstuffworks.com/question402.htm
All in all, Artemis is a pretty scientifically accurate book and a good introduction to Science fiction books as it just borders the genre, pulling a lot of its ideas from the contemporary world.