Fraser from Universe Today was able to host last weeks Carnival of space, which boasted an impressive list of ideas and concepts that would make even Mike Griffin of NASA proud (or at least mildly entertained).
Interesting roundups included:
- Stuart from Cumbrian Sky discusses the passion behind humanities quest towards the stars.
- Phil on Phil for Humanity breaks down the robots vs humans debate, with a surprise ending.
- Louise on A Babe in the Universe highlights an inexpensive way for placing telescopes on the moon (hopefully NASA will check that one out).
- Jon Goff of Selenian Boondocks enlightens everyone that the moon may be more interesting than we previously thought.
- Brian Wang of Advanced Nanotechnology informs everyone how the Liberty Ship could lift more cargo into space.
But the best post by far of this carnival belongs to the mysterious author of Space files, who highlights how NASA is seeking ways to pull oxygen from lunar dust.
(Space files) Eric Cardiff - who is leading a group at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center that is searching for ways of providing oxygen for human Mars and Moon missions - says that we simply have to evaporate the soil. Cardiff is working on a technology that can heat the soil to a high enough temperature for it to release the oxygen bound in it. Every oxide has such a temperature, at which it simply disintegrates into its constituents. This technique is called vacuum pyrolysis (where pyro stand for "fire" that is used to decompose ("lysis") the stuff. A lot of reasons suggest that pyrolysis is the best method: it doesn't need materials that have to be brought there from Earth, or any sort of strange or expensive stuff. Lunar dust collected in place have to be heated and that's it, there's your valuable oxygen.
Although getting into space is half the battle, remain their alive (and healthy) sums up the "entire war." If NASA and other private groups can find innovative ways of extracting oxygen from lunar soil, humanity will not only have all the oxygen that they will need for space, but an interesting propellant for fuel as well.
Future colonists could then easily market their lunar oxygen to other outposts throughout the solar system, exchanging it for Martian water or precious metals from the asteroid belt.
If humanity is unable to convert lunar soil into oxygen, then Earth's nearest neighbor may house only a few thousand brave souls at its max. But if NASA is able to convert this white regolith into breathable air, then tens of millions of individuals may learn to call our moon, home.
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