Recent advances in space exploration have described the moon as a resource for humans. For this reason, a lot of time and money has been invested in technologies that allow this celestial body to produce oxygen.
According to the calculations of John Grant, a professor of soil science at the Southern Cross University, it would be sufficient if a large amount of oxygen could be extracted from the surface of the moon. 10 meters of it produces enough oxygen for 8 billion people on Earth to live for about 100,000 years.
But the path to this point is long, so Grant explains.
In October, the Australian space agency and NASA signed a space contract The Australian-made rover to the moon under the Artemis project aims to collect lunar rocks that can deliver oxygen to the moon to breathe.
Although the Moon has an atmosphere, it is very thin and is mostly composed of hydrogen, neon and argon. It is not a gas compound that can withstand oxygen-dependent mammals such as humans.
After saying that, In fact the moon has a lot of oxygen. This is not in a fizzy format. Instead, it is trapped in a layer of rock and fine dust, which covers the surface of the moon.
If oxygen can be extracted from regolith, Is this enough to sustain human life on the moon?
Oxygen can be found in many minerals in the soil around us. Minerals such as silica, aluminum and iron and magnesium oxides dominate the lunar landscape.. All of these minerals contain oxygen, but not in the form that is accessible to our lungs.
The regolith of the moon is approximately one 45 percent oxygen. But that oxygen is closely bound to the minerals mentioned above. To break those strong ties, we need to pump energy through electrolysis. That is, in order to separate aluminum from oxygen, it transmits current through electrodes through the liquid form of aluminum oxide (commonly called alumina).
It’s a pretty straightforward process, but there’s a catch: it takes a lot of energy. To be consistent, It must be supported by solar energy or other energy sources available on the moon.
Substantial industrial equipment will be required to extract oxygen from regolith. We must first convert solid metal oxide into liquid form, either by applying heat or by mixing with solvents or electrolytes.
We have the technology to do this on Earth, but moving this device to the moon and creating enough power to run it will be a big challenge.
Earlier this year, Belgium-based start-up Space Applications Services announced the creation of three test reactors to improve the oxygen production process by electrolysis. AndThe technology is expected to be sent to the moon by 2025 as part of the European Space Agency’s In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) mission.
That being said, when we make this possible, we canHow much oxygen can the moon actually provide? According to Professor Grant, a lot.
Some estimates can be made if we ignore the oxygen trapped in the deep hard rock material of the moon and consider only the easily accessible regolith on the surface.
Grant explains that each cubic meter of lunar recollection contains an average of 1.4 tons of minerals, including 630 kilograms of oxygen.. NASA says man needs to breathe about 800 grams of oxygen a day to survive. So 630 kg of oxygen will make a person live for about two years (Or a little more).
Let us now assume that the average depth of regolith on the moon is about 10 meters and that all oxygen can be extracted from it. That is, 10 meters above the surface of the moon will provide enough oxygen to sustain the 8 billion people on Earth for about 100,000 years.
It also depends on how efficiently oxygen can be extracted and used. Regardless, this number is quite amazing!