How do you live on another planet? Where do the inhabitants of the space colonies get the oxygen? How can they generate motive power? For decades, scientists have put forward a whole range of strategies for this. Yet, with almost always the same common thread, which is also an obstacle: almost every proposal requires resources that come from the Earth. However, materials scientists Yingfang Yao and Zhigang Zou (Nanjing University) are now opening up a completely different path. Especially for a potential colony on the moon. According to them, the bottom of the moon contains active substances that can provide a way out.
The researchers came to this conclusion after analyzing soil samples brought back from the Moon by the Chinese space probe Chang’e 5 at the end of 2020. They determined that these samples contained materials rich in iron and titanium, among other things.
According to scientists, these substances can act as a catalyst for converting water extracted from the moon and exhaled air of space travelers into oxygen and hydrogen. This hydrogen is then combined with carbon dioxide2 Moreover, methane can be produced by space travelers. It can serve as fuel. The energy needed for the conversions will be provided by sunlight. The researchers themselves describe the process as extraterrestrial photosynthesis.
Yao Wuzu now wants to investigate further to what extent methods can facilitate human survival on the moon. They also immediately want to check whether they can be applied to other celestial bodies and planets.