ORONO- A team of researchers at the University of Maine is testing ways to take oxygen from the dirt on the moon.
“The goal is to, one, do that to have oxygen for breathable air and, two, to use as rocket fuel,” said senior Angel Loredo.
Having oxygen readily available on the moon could also further space exploration, as rocket fuel could be produced there and the moon could serve as something similar to a gas station.
It would also make it more cost effective for people to explore the satellite, maybe even opening the door to colonization.
“Because of the issues with green house gases we’re having, we might have to move off to a second planet or just somewhere else to put more people or stuff so we can leave more room on the earth we have because we do have a limited space,” said senior Joseph Baumann.
By channeling solar energy, the synthetic soil they received from NASA is heated, separating bonds between elements, including oxygen.
“As the soil gets heated, it will release oxygen gas. The hydrogen gas will get pumped in and the two will combine to make water, that’s steam, because it’s very very hot,” explained junior Christopher DeMarchi. “That steam will get captured and the hydrogen and oxygen will be separated through electrolysis.”
The team says they’ll have a prototype of the complete experiment on paper by may.
“I’ve always had a passion for space, so if there’s a way, no matter how large or small, I can impact the exploration and colonization of space, that makes me happy,” said senior Tom Cox.
They say they hope to continue doing research until the method is operational.