The Moon contains enough oxygen to allow 8 billion people to breathe for 100,000 years

In the atmosphere of our moon, there is not enough oxygen to breathe. But researchers believe that the top layer of the satellite’s surface, made up of the famous regolith, could contain enough of this element necessary for human life to allow colonization. As long as you can extract it!

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A big step forward. Then a small step back. This is the cadence given several months ago to the reverberation of the waltz on our return to the moon. Even if the main goal remains: to build a long-term manned base on our natural satellite. While NASA just postponed the deadline for its file Artemis program until 2025China and Russia plan to start lunar station construction from 2026. Before that, it will be necessary to ensure the availability of some vital resources. Water of course. but alsoOxygen.

I remember thatAtmosphere we’ve got moon weak. Mainly composed ofhydrogen, from neon And’argon. Whereas, what man needs is above all else.. oxygen. And indeed, some are thinking of solutions for its on-site production. European Space Agency (ESA)This is amazing), for example, but also the Australian Space Agency and NASA are developing technologies capable of extracting Contrition The moon, that layer of rocks, pebbles, stones or fine dust that covers the surface of the moon.

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Because on our satellite, we find a lot of metal containing oxygen: silica or iron oxides or magnesium, for example. Found in intact original form. It has not been changed, as it is on our earth, by living things which, in a few million years, would have transformed it into suitable soil.

Extracting oxygen by electrolysis

So there will be, on the Moon, a huge reserve of oxygen. How wonderful? Ok, According to the researchersThe regolith will consist of about 45% oxygen. But if we look only at the surface – because it’s still hard to tell what’s in the deep rocks – each cubic meter of regolith contains on average 1.4 tons of minerals. or the equivalent of 630 kilograms oxygen. It is enough to allow a person to breathe for about two years.

Assuming a regolith depth of ten metres, the Moon could provide eight billion human settlers with enough oxygen to live about 100,000 years. A number that can be tempered by the efficiency with which our engineers can extract oxygen from the regolith. Because to recover this precious item, it will be necessary to muster a lot ofenergy To break the close relationships he tends to form. via electrolysis, for example.

On Earth, enough oxygen plentiful in the air that we breathe, as a byproduct of electrolysis. On the moon, it will become its main product. The researchers plan to make the process sustainable by relying onsolar energy, especially. However, it does not seem so simple. Because before conducting electrolysis, it found metal oxides on the moon in the form solid It can be converted to liquid form. Starting from the heat, among other things. This is done on the ground. But getting all the useful equipment to the moon and getting it to work there is still a challenge today.

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