(ORDO NEWS) – The issues of survival and residence of astronauts on the Moon is a rather hot topic for future missions, since their solution requires huge financial investments, not to mention more advanced modern technologies to maintain life. Therefore, scientists are trying in every possible way to solve them. Especially when it turned out that some resources, including oxygen, would lie right under the feet of the colonialists.
In October 2021, the Australian Space Agency and NASA agreed to send an Australian rover to the moon as part of the Artemis space program to obtain lunar rocks. As it turned out, the lunar soil can provide people with breathable oxygen.
Despite the fact that the moon does have an atmosphere, it is very rarefied and consists mostly of hydrogen, argon and neon. This gas mixture would not be able to keep people alive.
However, there is indeed a lot of oxygen on the moon, which is not in gaseous form. It is simply trapped inside regolith – fine lunar dust that covers the surface of the Earth’s satellite. If scientists were able to extract oxygen from this regolith, then it would be enough to support the life of astronauts, paleologists say.
The lunar landscape contains a variety of minerals, among which there is a huge amount of silica, magnesium, oxidized iron, magnesium and aluminum. It turns out that they all contain oxygen molecules, but not in the form in which human lungs could receive it.
Lunar regolith contains approximately 45% oxygen. But this gas, important for humans, is closely associated with minerals, and in order to extract it, electrolysis will need to be performed, as a result of which oxygen will be released from the minerals. However, this process will require a lot of energy, which, given the existing technical capabilities, will not yet be able to be obtained.
One cubic meter of lunar regolith contains about 1.4 tons of the above minerals, which contain about 630 kilograms of oxygen. Experts from NASA say that humans need about 800 grams of oxygen per day to breathe. That is, 630 kg of oxygen will be enough for one person to live a little over two years.
Thus, experts have calculated that ten meters of the lunar surface can provide enough oxygen to provide them with 8 billion people for 100 thousand years.
Earlier, the Belgian scientific project Space Applications Services announced the start of construction of 3 experimental reactors to increase the efficiency of the oxygen production process using electrolysis. Engineers are preparing to send their innovative development to the moon in 2025, together with ESA’s mission to use the resources obtained on site.
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