American space agency NASA is gearing up to mine resources on the moon in the next 10 years, according to a report by The Guardian. The agency aims to extract lunar soil by 2032 as part of its upcoming Artemis mission, which will mark the return of humans to the moon for the first time since 1972’s Apollo 17 mission. This time, the mission will also include the first women and a person of color.
NASA plans to send a test drill into space to harvest lunar soil and establish a processing plant on the moon’s surface. The initiative aims to explore and understand the available resources, paving the way for potential development and production investments.
Gerald Sanders, a rocket scientist with NASA’s Johnson Space Centre, emphasized the early stage of exploration, stating, “We are literally just scratching the surface.” Commercial rocket companies are expected to be the initial beneficiaries, utilizing the moon’s surface for fuel or oxygen.
In a 2015 article, NASA highlighted the significance of the moon’s resources. Geological surveys have revealed the presence of three crucial elements: water, helium, and rare earth metals. Water can be converted into rocket fuel, while helium holds promise for advancements in the energy sector, such as nuclear fusion. Additionally, rare earth metals like scandium and yttrium, abundant in moon rocks, can greatly enhance the electronics industry.
NASA emphasized that the moon holds a mass of 73 quintal tonnes. By mining just 1 metric tonne per day, it would take 220 million years to deplete 1 percent of the moon’s mass.
The exploration and utilization of lunar resources open up exciting possibilities for scientific advancement and commercial ventures. As NASA aims to tap into the moon’s potential, the future of space exploration and resource extraction looks promising.