It’s Possible to Receive Oxygen and Fuel for Missiles from Moon Water

In the near future we expect the next discoveries associated with alien water, because we will head the new missions to the Moon and Mars. We spoke to Igor Mitrofanov, Ph.d, head of space research Institute of RAS, head of LEND program about what scientists have to find out.

The fact that there is water on the moon, which had been proven during several experiments. In particular, our device LEND, installed on the American satellite LRO, confirmed it. However, the neutron detector sees not water but hydrogen. On the basis of its data we can only assume that this hydrogen is included in H2O. But there were direct measurements, using Indian satellite Chandran, equipped with American infrared spectrometer. The result is a spectral line, indicating the hydroxyl, the hydrogen associated with the oxygen. Also in 2009, Americans carried out the LCROSS project. There were two spacecrafts, one of them hit the surface of the moon, and the other flew into the explosion and analyzed the elemental composition, also found that water presents in the lunar substance.

Water ice is on the surface of particles of regolith, the lunar soil. It's a bit like the frozen wet sand, which is formed on the Earth were there are low temperatures and a lack of snow. It is a kind of hard ground, almost stone.

Карта распределения воды и гидроксилов на поверхности Луны (отмечены синим)

The search for water on the natural satellite of the Earth is important to mankind. You need to understand the nature of this water. Where it came from at the lunar poles? There is an assumption that it was brought by comets. As you know, much of the water on our planet has the same origin. The early Earth was very heated, there was almost no water on the surface. And thanks to the fall of comets, for a long time water had accumulated.

Comets consist of ice. This is a very interesting celestial body, they existed before the formation of the Solar system, and some of them came from other stars. In the ice structure of comets a number of complex chemical molecules exists, and many astrobiologists generally assume that these comets may be carriers of spores of life. Therefore, studying the lunar water, we can study interplanetary, interstellar matter, brought by comets, and even to detect some prebiological organic molecules in it.

A few percent of water on the moon – . Data that we have today approve this matter. Of course, it depends on what the depth is, because we see only the top layer in the neutrons, about 60 cm. But a few percent is, in General, quite a lot. This means that it is possible to arrange automatic station that will extract water, oxygen and hydrogen from the regolith.

In the long term on the moon a lunar base will be created at the poles, and water will act as an important resource for livelihoods. First, by itself, water is needed in order for people to be there. Secondly, oxygen for breathing can be very easy to produce from this water. Finally, the composition of water includes hydrogen, and it is a good promising rocket fuel. That is, the presence of water will allow in the future to establish a system to ensure space exploration lunar resources directly at the moon. There will be no necessity of special devices to carry water and oxygen to the ISS. All can be acquired on the spot. This opens up new perspectives for space exploration.

The last Soviet lunar station was called Moon-24, so our next device is called Moon-25. The launch is scheduled in 2018. Its objectives are the development of new space systems and scientific exploration of the moon in the vicinity of the South Pole. Today we are, in fact, recovering technology, which is already, sadly, outdated. We will have to develop and test over again so many things. Then, in 2020, Luna-26will fly. This is an orbital devise, satellite of the moon, which will make its global survey in the framework of the development of the Luna-Resource project. And in 2021 the landing apparatus Luna-27 will go to the moon. It will explore the most interesting area near South pole and assess opportunities for the establishment of a lunar base.

The next important stage will be the development and testing funds for manned exploration of the moon. Spacecraft SOYUZ, which now is flying to the ISS, is not meant to carry people to the moon. If a society has an interest in space development and these developments are financed, manned flights will become a reality in 2030.

Now possible colonization of Mars and the moon is being actively discussed. As for Mars, it is at the maximum level of habitability, there still is the atmosphere and natural environment is relatively favorable for the transformations. Perhaps, Mars is the only planet in our solar system, where, life can exist on a permanent basis after environment transformation. The density and composition of the atmosphere can be changed with the help of plants, they could pump up the oxygen. But of course, this all won't happen soon. I think that the question of the establishment of conditions more suitable for colonization can be solved in the coming hundred years.

As for the moon, there're definitely no atmosphere there. And most importantly, there is nothing to create it from. So the Moon will likely still be the same industrial space as the seventh continent of the Earth, on which people will not always live, and will use it as an industrial complex. To extract minerals, to place there any environmentally harmful production. Maybe for the future of far space exploration, the Moon will be more favorable space port than Earth, because there will be possibility to produce rocket fuel, and the force of gravity there is much smaller, so the rocket for launch from the surface there is much easier to do.

In some periods of its history Mars was very similar to the early Earth. It had a magnetic field, thick atmosphere, flowing rivers on the surface, going to the lakes and even seas. What we see now on the surface of Mars, certainly, testifies to this.

Марс, долина Мангала. Рельеф, предположительно, был образован таянием льдов

Now water is present on Mars as vapour in the atmosphere, although it is quite small. There are still glaciers on the polar caps, but ordinary water, to which we are accustomed, which flows into the Moscow river, on the surface, doesn't exist. Maybe it is under the surface. If there are a lot of dissolved salts, it may remain in the liquid state and sometimes even escape to the surface, forming transient streams on steep slopes. But it is not yet reliably specified.

Together with the European space Agency we plan to undertake an ExoMars mission. There will be two starts. In March 2016 a huge devise made by European colleagues will fly. It will carry two Russian and two European instruments to study Mars and its atmosphere. Also small lander Schiaparelli, named after the Italian astronomer, who was active in Mars explorations will be on board. It will work through the system of landing on the surface, and if all goes well, at the end of this decade there will be the next run which will already be linked with the Mars rover. It will explore the most interesting region from the point of view of soil properties and the presence of water.

All believe that water is a life companion anyway. Perhaps we'll find on Mars some remnants of previous, ancient parts of the biosphere of this planet. And if we are really lucky, maybe we can find something on the current Mars.

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