Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Air From Moonrocks

When astronauts return to the Moon, to explore and eventually build a moon base, they're going to need oxygen... and lots of it. Fortunately lunar soil - or regolith - is almost half oxygen. NASA researchers are using a technique called vacuum pyrolysis, where the regolith is heated until it releases oxygen. Light from the Sun was focused by a lens to heat lunar soil to 2,500 degrees C. As much as 20% of the soil was converted to free oxygen, and the leftover slag could be used for bricks, radiation shielding or pavement.

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