The Lunar population is extremely diffuse. Although the total population is 39 million, there are only a dozen cities with populations of more than 500 000. All but two of these are on the nearside, both to exploit the mineral-rich maria and at least partially for the reassuring sight of Terra in the sky. The most important of these cities are Aldrin, Schmitt, Artemis and Tsukuyomi.
The typical layout for a city is an array of large surface domes used as parks and recreation area surrounded by smaller domes used for farming. All the living areas are underground to provide shielding against solar flares and cosmic rays. Arrays of solar cells on the surface provide electrical power during the long Lunar day, and larger settlements also have one or more cool fusion reactors.
The mining and manufacturing operations on the Moon are highly automated, each requiring only a few workers to oversee the operations. There are huge open cast mines scattered across the maria, chiefly extracting titanium, magnesium, iron and aluminium, with a substantial amount of radioactives and helium-3. The ores are smelted in solar furnaces and then launched into Lunar or Earth orbit by railguns.
Many Lunar citizens are scientists. The first Lunar settlements were scientific outposts, engaged in astronomy and later nanotechnology. The first general assemblers were produced in Luna, at the Centre for Self-Replicating Technologies, a Eurasian-sponsored research laboratory.
Today, the most widely known scientific facilities on the Moon are the Galileo Observatory on the farside and the Ptolemaeus Accelerator. The latter is operated by the Lunar Institute of Technology, a corporate university based in a sprawling campus in Copernicus. Besides these famous institutions there are also many private laboratories, engaged in research in many fields.
The future of Ad Astra