It’s the year 3000. Having used up all of Earth’s natural resources, humans have become a spacefaring race and established colonies on the moon. Vast, sealed domes cluster across its surface, housing cities populated by hundreds of thousands of people. This cold, gray rock has somehow become humanity’s new home.
Of course, this is pure science fiction. But no vision of the future is complete without an exterrestrial colony of humans, and since the moon is the closest celestial body to our planet, it’s the easiest to imagine as our futuristic home.
But does this vision align with reality? Will the moon one day be a hot property, and if so, how many people could its unwelcoming landscape realistically support?
One way to answer that question is to simply consider the moon’s surface area. At a quarter the size of our planet, the moon could theoretically fit a quarter of Earth’s current population, at Earth’s current density. But how many people could fit on the moon’s surface is a very different question than how many people that world could sustainably support. And in that regard, the moon is definitely Earth’s poorer cousin.