About the Oxygen Extractor landing on the moon

Vue d'artiste d'un lander lunaire utilisant une petite unité ISRU (In Situ Resource Utilisation). Ce concept ne préfigure pas forcément un lander opérationnel ou de démonstration. © Thales Alenia Space, ESA
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[EN VIDÉO] Live and work on the moon or on Mars
Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) is a research station located on the edge of the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii, at a height of about 2,500 meters in a dome of approximately 110 square meters. Purpose: To simulate the life of human settlers migrating to the moon or to Mars. Not only do astronauts understand how they can communicate with each other in difficult situations, but also develop the most appropriate methods and equipment for living and researching on the Moon and Mars. © HI-SEAS

Thales Alenia Space wins European Space Agency contract (ESA) To a Demonstrator Moon that allows to extractOxygen On top of that நிலா. As explained by Roger Ward, Technical Director, Thales Alenia Space in the UK. ” Can live permanently on the moon Astronauts Rather than carrying them off the earth, they must exploit the resources they find in situ “. This is especially the case with oxygen, which is beneficial for human respiration and productionMotivations. In fact, it is difficult to see man taking away all his essential necessities from the earth The moonEspecially if he counts To live For a very long time.

The complex challenge of creating oxygen on the moon to support human life

This demonstrator should test his ability to use resources In place (ISRU- In situ resource utilization), In this case oxygen production, in quantities required for future lunar colonies. For this he melted salt and theElectrolysis To extract oxygen from the moon’s rock, or ” Recolith “.

In detail, the European Space Agency wants the demonstrator to extract 50 to 100 grams of oxygen from the lunar regolith, which is capable of extracting 70% of the oxygen present in a sample. Another restriction is that the demonstration must be held within 10 days. This restriction is explained by the ESA’s desire to control the costs of the demonstrator.Energy Remember that the sun, on a lunar day, lasts 15 days. Due to lack of energy, the work will be turned off at night.

The demonstrator will be designed to fly over a range of possible lunar landers, including a multroller lander. Europe’s largest logistics lander (E3L) from ESA.

The site was awarded to Roger Ward, technical director of Thales Alenia Space in the UK.

Futura: Already have an idea of ​​the extraction technique you want to test and use on the Thales Alenia Space Moon?

Roger Ward: The Thales Alenia Space Group extracts oxygen by electrolysis and molten salt using a UK-based metallization FFC process.

Futura: The use of electrolysis does not seem to be optimal. What do you think?

Roger Ward: Improving any process that operates on the Moon must take into account a variety of factors, beyond the efficiency of operation on Earth. This scheme continuously evaluates the design to determine the amount of oxygen produced compared to oxygen. Mass And to power. We are well aware that any process that operates on the moon must be much less costly than delivering oxygen from the earth.

Futura: Should your protester take 50 to 100 grams of oxygen to test concept and technical choices?

Roger Ward: Beyond the “quantity of oxygen produced” aspect, our demonstrator aims to fully classify the function of the process on the moon.

Futura: But what performance do you aim for the operational unit? 300 to 400 liters of oxygen per kilogram of regolith?

Roger Ward: The payload concept is modular, scalable and primarily designed to demonstrate that technologies work and to improve the processes and materials used. Some of these processes and materials are new to the project, so the performance of a business segment cannot be published at this time.

Futura: What are the restrictions imposed by the European Space Agency?

Roger Ward: The focus is on demonstrating the process and technology that makes the oxygen produced on the moon cheaper than the oxygen carried from Earth.

Futura: What are the main difficulties in designing such equipment? Is gravity a major issue?

Roger Ward: The Gravity Not the main challenge. The main challenges are lunar soil, or regolith and molten salt. Lunar regolith, unlike anything found on Earth, is produced in a vacuum by the bombardment of heavy particles. Solar wind And conflict Meteors. In the absence of moisture andAtmosphere, The particles are so small that they are sometimes constantly charged and disconnected, making the regolith very sticky and very difficult to handle and process. The molten salt will be at a higher temperature, which is not much of a problem on Earth, but on the surface of the Moon, it is very difficult to use light space objects and vacuum. Therefore, to meet these two technological challenges (and many more), a program of technical experiments will be carried out on Earth, which will ensure that the devices and process operate in a representative environment as much as possible. Construction The end for the start.

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