May 18, 2022

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Moon soil can be turned into air and fuel for lunar astronauts

Moon soil can be turned into air and fuel for lunar astronauts

Since the first moon landing in 1969, the establishment of lunar colonies has been a longstanding goal. After all, the moon to water We can use subterranean caves We can inhabit, and now, apparently, a local method of generating a constant source of usable energy. With NASA’s upcoming Artemis project aimed at returning humans to the satellite, it is more important than ever to research and invest in resources for a long-term stay on the moon.

Fortunately, scientists in China may have discovered something that could help. at A new study was published Thursday in the magazine joulesResearchers have found that chemical compounds found in lunar soil are able to convert carbon dioxide and water into oxygen and hydrocarbons such as methane that can be used as fuel. The team says that these chemical compounds can act as catalysts – substances that speed up chemical reactions – to form the extraterrestrial photosynthesis system. This means that lunar soil can be used in conjunction with sunlight to support the long-term lunar life of colonies.

It comes down to a major challenge standing in the way of sustainable living off Earth: resources. You could only bring in plenty of breathable air, usable water, and fuel on a space mission. While scientists are developing technologies that allow astronauts to take advantage of planetary resources, these technologies still require items from the home. For example, NASA’s Perseverance rover carries A device called MOXIE It can convert Martian carbon dioxide into oxygen long enough to keep an astronaut healthy for 10 minutes. But the MOXIE still relies on electrical power from a battery made of land on board.

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It is important, then, to make like the Swiss Robinsons and to live entirely on the resources that the moon can provide. In the new study, the researchers found that this may be possible via the iron, magnesium, and titanium-rich materials found in lunar soil. They found that these substances – along with ultraviolet light – were able to make carbon dioxide and oxygen out of the water. The catalysts also produce small amounts of hydrogen gas, methane, and methanol. Each of these elements and chemicals can be used to generate the fuels and other materials needed for the long-term colonization of the Moon.

“We use on-site environmental resources to reduce missile payload, and our strategy provides a scenario for a sustainable and affordable extraterrestrial living environment,” Yingfang Yao, an engineer at Nanjing University and lead author of the study, said. He said in a press release.

While the catalysts are not as effective as those on Earth, Yao and his team are working to improve their design. They envision a future where lunar life support systems and fuels combine the power of lunar soil with sunlight, abundant in spades. Extraterrestrial photosynthesis systems could be a means of continuous oxygen supply as well as fueling spacecraft or rocket propellants.

“In the near future, we will see the manned spaceflight industry develop rapidly,” Yao said. “Just like the ‘age of sail’ in the seventeenth century when hundreds of ships head out to sea, we will enter into the ‘space age.’ But if we want to conduct large-scale exploration of the extraterrestrial world, we will need to think of ways to reduce payload, which means relying Get as little supplies from Earth as possible and use extraterrestrial resources instead.”

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