New Planned Vehicle May Help Store Oxygen on Moon & Build ‘Lunar Villages’ - Report

Lunar crust - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.03.2022
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While we expect that flights to Mars and the Moon will soon become a reality, access to oxygen is still a problem that plagues potential space colonists. The Moon has a sparse atmosphere, consisting mainly of hydrogen, neon and argon. So far, all hopes lie on electrolysis, a special reaction that can help extract oxygen from Moon materials.
A special device, reportedly being developed by the European Space Agency in cooperation with Thales Alenia Space, Franco-Italian aerospace manufacturer specialising in the space industry, would be able to extract oxygen from Lunar rocks, according to the Mirror.
The innovation may be another step towards the creation of a real “lunar village.”
“We wish to have lunar research stations which are permanent and people can go backwards and forwards from, rather than just go up there every 20 years,” said Roger Ward of Thales Alenia Space. “That’s when you start thinking about lunar villages and the need for resources such as oxygen to support that.”
An unmanned spacecraft “would feed the rocks into the machine to be crushed to dust that would be pressed into tablets,” according to the newspaper. When heated, these tablets were said to be able to emit oxygen that could be stored in reservoirs for future use.
The European Space Agency agreed on a £840,000 ($1,1 million) deal with Thales Alenia Space to develop “a blueprint for the device.” The project is expected to start in the next two years.
The moon is seen during a partial lunar eclipse in Shanghai January 1, 2010 - Sputnik International, 1920, 25.02.2022
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Electrolysis has many applications, from separating water into hydrogen and oxygen to extracting oxygen from lunar rocks. Not so long ago, researchers at the University of Glasgow in the UK examined how the electrolysis method works in reduced gravity since the Moon has only one-sixth and Mars one-third of Earth’s gravity. Scientists discovered that under conditions of Lunar and Martian gravity, oxygen production can decrease by about 11 and 6 percent compared to terrestrial conditions.
Meanwhile, there is a lot of oxygen on the Moon, but it doesn't exist in gaseous form. Instead, it resides inside regolith, a layer of rock and fine dust that covers the Moon's surface.
Oxygen can be found in many minerals on Earth, and the Moon mostly consists of the same materials. Minerals such as oxides of aluminium, iron, silicon and magnesium dominate the Moon's landscape. All of these minerals contain oxygen, for example, Lunar regolith is made up of about 45 percent oxygen.
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