June 24, 2024

Space plan to build an "oxygen farm" on the moon for NASA astronauts

Space plan to build an “oxygen farm” on the moon for NASA astronauts

The European Space Agency is planning to build an oxygen facility on the Moon to help astronauts breathe in space.

The European Space Agency (ESA) on Wednesday chose a winner who, according to a new agency, will be the first to build a payload whose mission will be to extract oxygen from the lunar surface. Conversion.

An artist’s drawing of what solar-powered lunar systems might look like one day


European Space Agency (ESA) extracts oxygen from simulated lunar soilImage credit: ESA

Led by UK-based Thales Alenia Space, the winning team must produce a small instrument that can be used to assess the possibility of building larger facilities on the moon.

The purpose of these lunar installations, according to the report, is “to extract fuel for spacecraft and porous air for astronauts, and mineral raw materials for equipment.”

The payload requires the ability to extract 50 to 100 grams of oxygen from the lunar regolith, which is soft, gray soil on the moon’s surface with a density of about 1.5 g/cm3.

The device, which is powered by solar energy, must also be able to provide accurate readings of energy and gas concentrations.

“The payload should be compact, low-powered, and capable of flying on a range of potential lunar landers, including the European Space Agency’s Large Logistics Lander,” said David Benz, systems engineer at ESA’s EL3 Synchronous Design Facility.

In addition to meeting the above criteria, the team’s payload must be able to complete these missions within one lunar day, which is the equivalent of 12 days on Earth.

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Previous studies by the European Space Agency have shown that the most abundant element in the lunar regolith is oxygen, which makes up about 40-45% of its weight.

However, this oxygen is not easy to extract because it is chemically bound as oxides in the form of metals or glass.

However, a prototype of the oxygen system created at ESTEC’s Laboratory of Electrical Materials and Components has perfected the process.

The process consists of using electrolysis to split the simulated lunar regolith into metals and oxygen – essential resources for long-duration, sustainable space missions.

“The ability to extract oxygen from a rocky moon, along with usable minerals, will fundamentally change lunar exploration,” Baines said.

He noted that this feat would allow international astronauts to live on Earth without the need for expensive ground supply lines.

Finally, Bynes announced that the team looks forward to working with the winning consortium to “make their design a reality.”

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