When astronauts return to the moon in the next decade, they will do more with the dust than leave footprints on it.
A British company won A European Space Agency deal To develop the technology to convert lunar dust and rocks into oxygen, it leaves aluminum, iron and other metal powders to build with lunar construction workers.
If this process can work well enough, it will lead to extraction facilities on the moon that produce oxygen and valuable materials on the surface, rather than transporting them into space at great cost.
“Anything you take from Earth to the Moon is an extra weight that you don’t want to carry, so it saves you a lot of time, effort and money if you can produce these items in situ,” said executive Ian Meller, director of metallysis, located in Sheffield.
Analyzes of rocks brought from the moon reveal that 45% of oxygen is made up of matter by weight. The rest are mostly iron, aluminum and silicon. In Creative published this year, Scientists at the University of Metallysis and Glasgow found that 96% of oxygen could be extracted from simulated lunar soil, leaving behind useful metal alloy powders.
NASA and other space agencies are in advanced preparations for the return to the moon, and this time countries will work with private companies on life support, habitat construction, energy production and key technologies to establish a permanent lunar base or “moon village”. Manufacture of food and goods
The ISA deal will fund metallysis for nine months, completing an electrochemical process that will release oxygen from lunar dust and rocks. This process is already used on Earth, but oxygen is released as an unwanted by-product of mineral extraction. For lunar explorers to work, it must capture and store oxygen.
Under the agreement, the company will try to increase the yield and purity of oxygen and metals from the rock, while reducing the amount of energy the process consumes. If the technology seems promising, the next step is to demonstrate the extraction of oxygen on the moon.
The oxygen released from the lunar surface can combine with other gases to create breathable air, but this is an important component of rocket propellant, which can be produced on the moon and used to refuel a spacecraft built into deep space.
“If you want to go further into space, it’s a gas station on the moon, you need to go deeper into space,” Meller said.
Mark Symes, who works on the process at the University of Glasgow, said Moon Rock represents the “greatest potential source of oxygen” to support human exploration of the Earth’s satellite and the vast solar system.
“Oxygen is not only used by astronauts to breathe, but also as an oxidizer in rocket propulsion systems,” he said. “The moon does not have free oxygen, so astronauts must carry their own oxygen to the moon, enabling life support and their return journey, which adds significantly to weight, so the cost of rocket launches is controlled for the moon.”
Sue Horn, head of space research in the UK Location The agency said: “In the future, if we want to travel extensively in space and set up bases on the moon and Mars, we must prepare or find what we need to support life: food, water and breathable air.”
For more than four decades, human space exploration has been limited to travel to the International Space Station, an orbit 220 miles from Earth. The focus in the coming years is to build a new station in orbit around the moon, which will serve as a stopover to establish a presence on the lunar surface, and as a base to launch externally on Mars.
The lunar gateway project has set an ambitious goal to return humans to the moon by 2024, with crews aboard NASA’s Orion spacecraft. The rocket is expected to make its first non-crew aircraft next year.
ISA has provided power and propulsion units for the first Orion aircraft and has entered into agreements to build the main board module for the lunar station.