When astronauts return to the moon in the next decade, they will dust off more than leave footprints on it.
A British institution succeeded A European Space Agency agreement Develop technology to convert lunar dust and rocks to oxygen, abandoning aluminum, iron and other metal powders to build for lunar construction workers.
If this process works well enough, it will pave the way for extraction from the moon, which produces oxygen and precious materials on the surface, rather than transporting them into space at great expense.
“Anything you carry from Earth to the Moon is an extra burden that you don’t want to carry, so it saves you a lot of time, effort and money if you can build these objects on time,” said Managing Director Ian Mellor, who is based in Sheffield.
Analysis of rocks brought back from the moon reveals that the weight of oxygen is 45%. The rest are mainly iron, aluminum and silicon. In Work published this year, Scientists at Metallysis and the University of Glasgow have found that 96 percent of oxygen can be extracted from simulated lunar soil, leaving useful metal alloy powders.
NASA and other space agencies are making extensive preparations to return to the moon, this time to establish a permanent lunar base, or “Moon Village,” where life support with private companies, habitat construction, energy production, and food production.
The S contract will finance metallysis for nine months to complete an electrochemical process that expels oxygen from lunar dust and rocks by sending an electric current through the material. Although this process has already been used on Earth, it releases oxygen 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 used in the process. If the technology seems to be doing well, the next step will be to show that the moon is extracting oxygen.
The oxygen released from the lunar surface can combine with other gases to produce breathable air, but this is an important component of the rocket propellant, which builds up on the moon and fills the spacecraft, which is connected to deep space.
“If you want to go further into space, this is a gas station on the moon to go deeper into space,” Mellor said.
Mark Zims, who works at the University of Glasgow, said the moon rock represents “the most probable source of oxygen” to support human exploration of the Earth’s satellite and vast solar system.
“Oxygen is not only useful for astronauts to breathe, but also as an oxidizer in rocket propulsion systems,” he said. “The moon does not have oxygen, so astronauts will have to carry all their oxygen to the moon, which significantly increases the weight of life support and enables return travel, thus limiting the cost of rocket launches to the moon. ”
Sue Horn, head of space exploration in the UK Space The agency said: “In the future, if we want to travel extensively in space and establish stations on the moon and Mars, we need to build or find the things we need to support life: food, water, and breathable air.”
For more than four decades, human space exploration has been limited to missions to the International Space Station, an orbit 220 miles from Earth. The focus in the coming years will be on the construction of a new station in orbit around the Moon, which will serve as a stop for humans to establish their presence on the lunar surface, and as a base for launching outwards. Tuesday.
The Lunar Gateway program aims to launch crews aboard NASA’s Orion spacecraft and send humans back to the moon by 2024. The rocket is expected to build its first un-crude aircraft next year.
Issa has provided power and propulsion units for the first Orion flight, and has approved contracts to build the main crew module for the lunar station.
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