Company To Turn Moon Rock Into Oxygen And Building Materials
A British firm has been given the responsibility of turning moon rocks into oxygen and building materials in order to facilitate greater exploration on the natural satellite.
When it was announced that water had been found on the moon many became excited about the possibilities of lunar bases in the future. The construction of these kinds of bases have been in the works for some time, but to deliver these constructs, raw materials and oxygen are needed.
UK tech company Metalysis has now been entrusted with creating a system that can turn moon rocks into building materials while repurposing the oxygen that is released in the process.
The managing director of Metalysis, Ian Mellor has explained why it is essential to use the properties found on the moon rather than launching all desired materials from Earth:
Anything you take from Earth to the moon is an added weight that you don’t want to carry, so if you can make these materials in situ it saves you a lot of time, effort and money.
Metalysis has been awarded the role from the European Space Agency after Metalysis and the University of Glasgow presented a way to extract 96% of the oxygen in moon rocks while leaving core materials like aluminium and iron. The team now has nine months to deliver the product and if it is a success it will be used on future lunar bases. The rocks on the moon are said to be made up of up to 45% oxygen so utilising this in a building process could be very useful.
The importance of the process was explained by Mark Symes who worked on the process at the University of Glasgow:
Oxygen is useful not only for astronauts to breathe, but also as an oxidiser in rocket propulsion systems. There is no free oxygen on the moon, so astronauts would have to take all their own oxygen with them to the moon, for life support and to enable their return journey, and this adds considerably to the weight and hence expense of rocket launches bound for the moon.
Turning moon rocks into building materials and oxygen would enable those on lunar bases to stay there without constant support. Alongside the discovery of water, this kind of technology could prove invaluable to long stays on the natural satellite.
Looking forward, it will be exciting to see how this technology benefits life on the moon.
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