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China extracts oxygen from moon rocks

2022-11-29T21:10:20.387Z

China uses lunar rocks to produce oxygen Created: 11/29/2022, 10:02 p.m By: Tanya Banner Humans need water and oxygen to conduct research on the moon. The cheapest option would be to produce both locally, using the resources available. © imago/STAR MEDIA Chinese researchers are using lunar rocks to make oxygen and rocket fuel - an important step towards a lunar station. Beijing – China has bi



China uses lunar rocks to produce oxygen

Created: 11/29/2022, 10:02 p.m

By: Tanya Banner

Humans need water and oxygen to conduct research on the moon.

The cheapest option would be to produce both locally, using the resources available.

© imago/STAR MEDIA

Chinese researchers are using lunar rocks to make oxygen and rocket fuel - an important step towards a lunar station.

Beijing – China has big plans for the moon.

After the nation placed a rover on the back of the Earth's satellite a few years ago and the country even managed to bring rock samples to Earth, a research station is to be set up on the moon in the future, among other things.

There people should be able to explore the celestial body further.

The US space organization Nasa also wants to let people work and live on the moon – as early as 2030.

But the basic requirement for living and working on other celestial bodies is that people can survive there.

In the case of the moon, this means above all that there must be enough oxygen and water.

The problem: Freight is expensive in space travel – as early as 2017, experts came to the conclusion that it would cost around 1.7 million euros to transport a single brick to Mars.

Research on the moon: humans need oxygen and water

So it is likely to be expensive to transport enough oxygen and water to the moon - especially since things like equipment and fuel are also needed on the moon.

Therefore, research is working on what is known as “in situ resource utilization”, the use of locally available resources in order to save on freight costs.

Within this framework, a research team from China has developed a method for obtaining fuel and oxygen on site on the moon.

NASA's "Space Launch System": This is how the moon rocket SLS is structured

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To do this, the Chinese team used moon rock that the Chinese moon mission "Chang'e 5" brought to earth in 2020.

The researchers found that the lunar rock can be used as a catalyst to convert carbon dioxide into methane and oxygen.

This is particularly interesting because it is known that there is carbon dioxide on the moon.

Moon rock as a catalyst: Carbon dioxide becomes oxygen and fuel

With the method, the researchers kill two birds with one stone: On the one hand, oxygen is produced, which future lunar inhabitants need to breathe, and on the other hand methane is produced - a greenhouse gas that can also be used as rocket fuel.

Moon rocks, on the other hand, are found in abundance on the earth's satellite.

But the researchers went one step further: they not only proved that moon rock is a catalyst for the production of oxygen, they also automated the production of oxygen and methane.

Automation has advanced to the point where production no longer requires human intervention, the research team reports in a study published in the journal

National Science Review

.

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Obtaining oxygen on the moon: space travel must use local resources

"Such a highly efficient extraterrestrial fuel and oxygen production system is expected to propel the development of human civilization towards extraterrestrial settlement," the researchers write.

Yujie Xiong, one of the lead authors of the study, said in a statement, "The in situ resource exploitation of the lunar soil for extraterrestrial fuel and oxygen production is essential for human exploration of the moon."

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It is not the first time that researchers have found a way of using the resources of a foreign celestial body in a meaningful way.

Some time ago, Greek researchers developed a solution for “harvesting” oxygen from the lunar soil.

Another research team has figured out how to make concrete on the moon or Mars.

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Source: merkur

All news articles on 2022-11-29

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