The Moon, the only illuminator of our nights, is seen as a rich place for mining with its rare earth elements and ice-shaped water at its poles. Many countries in the world do not idle about mining research on the Moon. Here are the studies…
Since NASA sent Apollo, the first manned vehicle to the Moon more than 40 years ago, a lot of information about the Moon has been reached. One of the most important information obtained from the explorations made by unmanned space vehicles is undoubtedly the mineral reserve on the Moon. The fact that there is about 1.6 billion tons of mineral reserves below the surface of the moon attracts the attention of countries as the stock of rare substances in the world will suffer in the future.
The mineral reserve beneath the surface of the Moon is promising for the industry of mobile phones, computers and batteries. It is estimated that there are 1.6 million tons of frozen water at the north and south poles of the Moon. Frozen water can be used to produce rocket fuel by separating it into hydrogen and oxygen as well as drinking water.
Fuel Station on the Moon
Private companies and space agencies have therefore accelerated their investment in the Moon. The Texas-based Shackleton Energy Company plans to turn ice-shaped water on the surface of the Moon into a rocket propellant. The rocket propellant can hold this idea from the company that intends to build an interplanetary fuel station on the Moon, because sending fuel from Earth to the Moon is much more costly. Thanks to the fuel station, rockets can refuel on the moon and go to much more remote parts of space at less cost.
Moon Express is another company that manufactures fuel from frozen water. Moon Express plans to produce fuel by converting frozen water into a chemical called “high-test peroxide” (HTP).
The European Space Agency has also signed an agreement with ArianeGroup, a spacecraft launcher for mining on the Moon over the next six years. In fact, the first test is scheduled for 2020. This spacecraft will land at the South Pole and drill holes under the surface, and a research vehicle will be found to extract water from the Moon's soil.
Far enthusiastic in the Far East
Outside Europe, China and India are eager to extract a nuclear fuel called Helium-3, which may be useful to provide safer nuclear energy and strengthen the future spacecraft. Helium-3 (an isotope of non-radioactive helium) can be used as a fuel to produce huge amounts of energy for fusion reactors at very low environmental cost. China has succeeded in lowering its first probe into the dark side of the Moon, and its ultimate goal is to create a lunar base. Despite the commercial tensions in the world, NASA cooperates with China on this front. In December 2013, China made a significant leap forward in mining by launching the Jade Rabbit robot spacecraft onto the surface of the Moon.
Mining on the Moon is not as easy as on Earth
Due to the repeated vibrations of distant meteors, the Moon's surface is much more dense than the earth on Earth. Since gravity on the Moon is one-sixth of Earth's surface, mining requires a vacuum drive. Although the World Mining Rules apply on the Moon, the vehicles to be used on the Moon must be coated or made of materials that minimize friction.
In spite of all these details and difficulties, private companies and space agencies will continue to invest in this area because of their potential benefit.