Lunar soil can produce oxygen, fuel for long-term human bases on the moon, scientists say

As scientists around the world explore the moon to find ways to maintain a sustainable human presence, researchers from China have claimed the lunar soil has the potential to generate oxygen and fuel. They say the soil on the moon contains active compounds that can convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and fuels. These results suggest that Earth on the lunar surface could be used to produce hydrogen and methane, which can power devices and dwellings on the moon. They can also lead to a breathable atmosphere at our nearest heavenly neighbor.

There is already renewed interest in lunar exploration, and several missions are planned to land on the lunar surface in the coming years. In fact, NASA is trying to send astronauts back to the moon as part of their Artemis mission. The US space agency intends to use the moon as a gateway to send humans further into space, including Mars. China also has such ambitions.

That’s what the Chinese researchers suggested in their study, published in the journal joulesto design a system that uses lunar soil and solar radiation to produce oxygen and carbon dioxide. They called it the “alien photosynthesis” strategy.

Nanjing University materials scientists Yingfang Yao and Zhigang Zou came to this conclusion after analyzing lunar soil returned from China’s Chang’e 5 spacecraft. They found the sample contained compounds, including iron-rich and titanium-rich substances, that could act as a catalyst to produce oxygen and carbon dioxide.

In addition to oxygen and carbon dioxide, the proposed system will also provide hydrocarbons such as methane that could be used as fuel. The researchers said the strategy uses sunlight rather than external energy.

Several ways have been proposed to maintain a sustained human presence on the moon, but almost all require energy sources to be transported there from Earth. This strategy greatly increases the cost of alien survival.

Meanwhile, the Chinese researchers say they are trying to test the system during China’s future manned lunar missions. Lunar soil can produce oxygen, fuel for long-term human bases on the moon, scientists say

Ryan Sederquist

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