If mankind ever wants to support human life on the Moon, it will require breathable oxygen. A British company has figured out how to extract oxygen from the lunar soil.
Metalysis, a materials technology company in England, recently announced that it has partnered with the European Space Agency to develop its method of extracting extra-terrestrial oxygen from materials found on the lunar surface, reports CNN.
In addition to being able to extract 96 percent of oxygen from lunar dust - also known as regolith - the process also leaves behind metals that could come in handy for building settlements on the moon.
The project is an important step forward in the development of a sustainable source of oxygen on the moon and to providing the fuel for spacecraft landing on and launching from its surface. Producing such valuable resources on-site could also significantly reduce the payload weight that would be needed to be launched from Earth.
“One of the main drivers of the project is to be able to use the resources that are already on the moon, rather than having to take them from Earth to the moon - there’s quite a cost associated with taking things into space, and the more you can utilize what’s there, the better,” said Ian Mellor, the company’s managing director.
No humans have set foot on the moon since 1972, but now, the planet is in the sights of several space agencies. As part of its Artemis program, NASA plans to land its first woman on the moon in 2024, as well as the first man since 1972.