Scientists plan oxygen factory on the Moon

Moon dust: Nearly 50% of lunar soil is made of life’s most essential gas. © NASA

The European Space Agency has announced that it is working on a scheme to support human settlements on the Moon. It aims to build an oxygen plant to make rocket fuel and breathable air.

What’s happening

Scientists might have found a way to help people survive on the Moon.

The Moon doesn’t have an atmosphere or air for humans to breathe.

But its surface, which is covered by a substance many people call Moon dust, is almost 50% oxygen.

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Humans need oxygen to survive so, if it is possible to get the gas from natural resources found on the Moon, experts think it could be really useful for future missions.

“Being able to acquire oxygen from resources found on the Moon would obviously be hugely useful for future lunar settlers, both for breathing and in the local production of rocket fuel,” said Beth Lomax from the University of Glasgow.

The European Space Agency (Esa) has opened a new facility where they have managed successfully to take oxygen from simulated Moon dust.

Esa’s aim is to design a facility which will operate on the Moon.

Despite the researchers’ success so far, they say more work needs doing before it’s ready for a real-life mission.

Would you volunteer to live on the Moon?

Some say…

No! Looking at pictures of the Moon, it seems like a cold, grey desert. Even with the oxygen plant, you would still have to wear a heavy spacesuit to go outside. The food would all be packaged; there would be very little to do other than work, and the novelty value would wear off after a few days.

Others think…

Of course! It would be mad not to. Just think of the fortune you could make for yourself and your family by keeping the first Moon diary, or by setting up Instagram account about daily life on the Moon. The chance to be a real player in human history is incredibly rare. If it came up, we should grab it with both hands.

You Decide

  1. Is space travel a colossal waste of money?

Activities

  1. Draw an imaginary diagram of a Moon village, with everything that you think it would need to keep people happy.

Some People Say...

“Everyone is a Moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.”

Mark Twain (1835-1910) was the pen name of American writer, Samuel Langhorne Clemens

What do you think?

Word Watch

An atmosphere
A layer of gases surrounding a planet, that is held in place by the gravity of the planet.
Moon dust
Various types of particles, including rock fragments and glass.
Oxygen
A colourless, odourless, tasteless gas essential to living organisms.
Lunar
From the Moon.
Facility
Workshop, farm or factory.

Subjects

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