Many environmentalists argue that it’s important to focus our attention on Earth’s problems before venturing off into space, but the recent discovery of water on the moon means that exploring other planets could be easier than ever. Now that an Indian mission has discovered hydrogen and oxygen molecules on the lunar surface, the planet can be used as an outer space “service station”, prepping astronauts for their journeys into deep space.
In such a scenario, astronauts departing Earth to explore other planets could make a pit stop on the moon, extracting water to drink, oxygen to breathe, and hydrogen to fill up rocket tanks.
There are still some hurdles to overcome, however. The moon water is found inside minerals, and extracting it through heating methods uses a great deal of energy. According to Professor Colin Pillinger of the Open University, “You would need to heat up a lot of lunar soil to 200C to get yourself a glass of water”. And of course, launching a rocket to the moon also uses plenty of energy. But if the net energy cost of extracting hydrogen and oxygen from the moon is lower than the cost of transporting fuel from Earth to other planets, the moon might just have a future as the galaxy’s most remote gas station.
Via UK Daily Mail