Lunar Soil Can Turn Carbon Dioxide into Oxygen and Rocket Fuel to Power Future Missions to Mars

By: | May 13th, 2022

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Scientists have proposed many strategies for a sustainable and affordable extra-terrestrial living environment.

But all these ideas require energy sources from Earth. Like NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance, which has an instrument to make oxygen using carbon dioxide in the planet’s atmosphere, but it’s run by a nuclear battery.

Now to reduce reliance on supplies from Earth by using extra-terrestrial resources, scientists plan to use the two most abundant resources on the moon: solar radiation and soil.

As per a study conducted by the scientists from Nanjing University in China, moon soil can convert carbon dioxide into oxygen to support human life in space. Apart from Oxygen, the lunar soil could also be converted into rocket fuel to power future missions to Mars.

Moon soil contains iron-rich and titanium-rich substances that can convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, hydrogen, and other useful by-products like methane to support life on the moon.

Scientists analyzed the dirt granules brought back by China’s Chang’E-5 spacecraft. They found that it contained compounds that can turn carbon dioxide into oxygen. Now, they hope to design an “extra-terrestrial photosynthesis” system to take advantage of moon soil and solar radiation.

Scientists plan to test the “extra-terrestrial photosynthesis” system in space on future lunar missions by China.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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