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The Moon’s Surface Has Enough Oxygen to Keep Billions Alive For 100,000 Years

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Alongside advances in space exploration, we’ve recently seen much time and money invested into technologies that could allow effective space resource utilization. And at the forefront of these efforts has been a laser-sharp focus on finding the best way to produce oxygen on the Moon.

In October, the Australian Space Agency and NASA signed a deal to send an Australian-made rover to the Moon under the Artemis program, with a goal to collect lunar rocks that could ultimately provide breathable oxygen on the Moon.

Although the Moon does have an atmosphere, it’s very thin and composed mostly of hydrogen, neon, and argon. It’s not the sort of gaseous mixture that could sustain oxygen-dependent mammals such as humans.

That said, there is actually plenty of oxygen on the Moon. It just isn’t in a gaseous form. Instead it’s trapped inside regolith – the layer of rock and fine dust that covers the Moon’s surface.

If we could extract oxygen from regolith, would it be enough to support human life on the Moon?

The breadth of oxygen

Oxygen can be found in many of the minerals in the ground around us. And the Moon is mostly made of the same rocks you’ll find on Earth (although with a slightly greater amount of material that came from meteors).

Minerals such as silica, aluminum, and iron and magnesium oxides dominate the Moon’s landscape. All of these minerals contain oxygen, but not in a form our lungs can access.

On the Moon these minerals exist in a few different forms including hard rock, dust, gravel, and stones covering the surface. This material was resulted from the impacts of meteorites crashing into the lunar surface over countless millennia.

Some people call the Moon’s surface layer lunar “soil”, but as a soil scientist I’m hesitant to use this term. Soil as we know it is pretty magical stuff that only occurs on Earth. It has been created by a vast array of organisms working on the soil’s parent material – regolith, derived from hard rock – over millions of years.

The result is a matrix of minerals which were not present in the original rocks. Earth’s soil is imbued with remarkable physical, chemical, and biological characteristics. Meanwhile, the materials on the Moon’s surface is basically regolith in its original, untouched form.

One substance goes in, two come out
The Moon’s regolith is made up of approximately 45 percent oxygen. But that oxygen is tightly bound into the minerals mentioned above. In order to break apart those strong bonds, we need to put in energy.

You might be familiar with this if you know about electrolysis. On Earth this process is commonly used in manufacturing, such as to produce aluminum. An electrical current is passed through a liquid form of aluminum oxide (commonly called alumina) via electrodes, to separate the aluminum from the oxygen.

In this case, the oxygen is produced as a byproduct. On the Moon, the oxygen would be the main product and the aluminum (or other metal) extracted would be a potentially useful byproduct.

It’s a pretty straightforward process, but there is a catch: it’s very energy hungry. To be sustainable, it would need to be supported by solar energy or other energy sources available on the Moon.

Extracting oxygen from regolith would also require substantial industrial equipment. We’d need to first convert solid metal oxide into liquid form, either by applying heat, or heat combined with solvents or electrolytes.

We have the technology to do this on Earth, but moving this apparatus to the Moon – and generating enough energy to run it – will be a mighty challenge.

Earlier this year, Belgium-based startup Space Applications Services announced it was building three experimental reactors to improve the process of making oxygen via electrolysis. They expect to send the technology to the Moon by 2025 as part of the European Space Agency’s in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) mission.

How much oxygen could the Moon provide?

That said, when we do manage to pull it off, how much oxygen might the Moon actually deliver? Well, quite a lot as it turns out.

If we ignore oxygen tied up in the Moon’s deeper hard rock material – and just consider regolith which is easily accessible on the surface – we can come up with some estimates.

Each cubic meter of lunar regolith contains 1.4 tonnes of minerals on average, including about 630 kilograms of oxygen. NASA says humans need to breathe about 800 grams of oxygen a day to survive. So 630 kg oxygen would keep a person alive for about two years (or just over).

Now let’s assume the average depth of regolith on the Moon is about 10 meters, and that we can extract all of the oxygen from this. That means the top 10 meters of the Moon’s surface would provide enough oxygen to support all 8 billion people on Earth for somewhere around 100,000 years.

This would also depend on how effectively we managed to extract and use the oxygen. Regardless, this figure is pretty amazing!

Having said that, we do have it pretty good here on Earth. And we should do everything we can to protect the blue planet – and its soil in particular – which continues to support all terrestrial life without us even trying.
John Grant, Lecturer in Soil Science, Southern Cross University.

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Vatican Knows More About UFOs Than Intelligence Agencies

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Are you still sure that intelligence agencies and scientists know more about extraterrestrial civilizations than anyone else? In fact, science centers, the CIA, and individuals like Elon Musk and Bill Gates know less about UFOs and alien visitations than the Pope. You may be surprised to learn that the Vatican has its own space exploration program.

The Vatican Observatory is an astronomical research and educational institution supported by the Holy See. Originally based in the Roman College of Rome, the Observatory is now headquartered in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, and operates a telescope at the Mount Graham International Observatory in the United States.

Indirect confirmation that the Vatican is “in the know” are the statements of Pope Francis and his predecessor about extraterrestrial life.

Cultists have repeatedly pointed out that people will soon get acquainted with extraterrestrial intelligence, learn more about extraterrestrial civilizations. And there is no doubt that the Vatican takes extraterrestrials more than seriously. For example, the possibility of converting them to Catholicism has been announced.

“Honestly, I wouldn’t know how to answer that,” the Pope replied, explaining that while scientific knowledge has so far ruled out the possibility of other thinking beings in the universe, “until America was discovered, we thought it didn’t exist, and instead it did,” Pope Francis said.

“But in any case, I think we should stick to what scientists tell us, still aware that the Creator is infinitely greater than our knowledge.”

Francis said the one thing he is sure of in the universe and the world we live in is that it is “not the result of chance or chaos,” but rather of divine intelligence.

Yes, the Vatican’s research power pales in comparison to NASA’s latest technological advances, but the facts speak for themselves.

Until the 19th century, this religious organization was known for opening astronomical observatories and scientific schools where young and able scientists were trained in the technique of observing space.

The Vatican Observatory, which still exists today, is one of the oldest and most authoritative on a planetary scale.

But that’s not all. It turns out that the Vatican also has a space program that, according to experts, is not much inferior to the program of the same NASA.

The Vatican has quite modern and powerful telescopes and other observation equipment. The largest telescope observes the universe in the infrared range and significantly exceeds the capabilities of analogues.

And another interesting fact to ponder. While the Vatican conducts space research, more and more people on Earth begin to believe in the reality of extraterrestrial life.

According to statistics, in 1990 this number was estimated at 27% of the world’s population. In 2000 it increased to 33%. Now it is approaching the 65% mark. Thus, the Vatican’s awareness of extraterrestrial life can be seen as a “fire of knowledge”.

Jesuit Father Jose Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory, said Christians should consider alien life as an “extraterrestrial brother” and part of God’s creation.

Father Funes said it is difficult to rule out the possibility that other intelligent life exists in the universe, and he noted that a field of astronomy is now actively searching for “biomarkers” in the spectral analysis of other stars and planets.

These potential forms of life could include those that do not require oxygen or hydrogen, he said. Just as God created multiple forms of life on Earth, he said, there may be multiple forms of life throughout the universe.

“This is not contrary to faith, because we cannot place limits on God’s creative freedom,” he said.

“To use the words of St. Francis, if we consider earthly creatures to be ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters,’ why can’t we also speak of an ‘extraterrestrial brother,'” he said.

According to some scientists, the goals and objectives of church officials have changed somewhat. Now they are clearly focused on preparing humanity for an encounter with extraterrestrials.

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Potential ‘portal’ discovered that could be a wormhole in our galaxy

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Science has long been interested in the so-called wormholes. These are tunnels in space-time, giving, so far only theoretically, the possibility of instantaneous movement between galaxies.

Recently, for the first time, it turned out that in our Galaxy there is an object similar to a wormhole. It is located at a distance of 1566 light years from us, by space standards within easy reach.

Portals between universes or galaxies are theoretically possible, their existence does not contradict the laws of physics. Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen stated this back in the 1930s.

Later, several theories appeared, in their own way explaining the likelihood of such travel using the so-called wormholes.

One such hypothesis compares a wormhole and a black hole. The entrances to them as a region of powerful gravity are very similar. Based on this analogy, scientists hope that tunnels in space-time can be detected, including using the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), the main purpose of which is to observe black holes.

EHT is a complex of radio telescopes located in different parts of the world. With his help, several discoveries have already been made, last year he found a black hole in the center of our native galaxy

In general, there are supposedly millions of such black holes in the Milky Way, and most importantly, some of them are potentially the mouths of wormholes.

Astrophysicists in the United States and Germany recently discovered the first such object. This is Gaia BH1, an object ten times the size of the Sun, located 1566 light-years from Earth.

Gaia BH1 has a Sun-like star orbiting it. Usually, in such binary systems, the black hole is “fed” by the star, simultaneously emitting powerful X-rays. But this black hole does not attract matter to itself and does not radiate anything. Astronomers conventionally call such mysterious objects “sleeping” black holes. They have never before been found in our galaxy.

This is either a “sleeping” black hole, or a perfectly suitable candidate for the “role” of a wormhole. The discovery was made possible by the highly functional Gaia space telescope and the ground-based Gemini telescopes.

Traditionally, a classical wormhole is represented as a three-dimensional tube in a curved two-dimensional space. This does not contradict general relativity, but most scientists believe that such tunnels are only stable if they are filled with exotic matter of negative energy density, which creates a strong gravitational repulsion and prevents the cavity from collapsing.

However, there are also other opinions. For example, Pascal Koiran, professor of computer science at Ecole Normale Superieure of Lyon, published calculations according to which exotic matter is not needed to pass through the wormhole at the level of elementary particles.

Traveling through a wormhole could look like a surreal and disorienting experience. It may appear as if you are traveling through a tunnel of bright light and time is passing by quickly.

You may feel as if you are being transported from one place to another without actually moving. As you move through the wormhole, you could experience changes in gravity or shifts in the space-time continuum.

The inside of the tunnel may appear to be made out of strange and exotic particles, with colors and shapes that seem out of this world. In some cases, the tunnel may even be filled with a mysterious form of energy that seems to be alive.

Wormholes were and remain today the only chance for interstellar flights. So scientists will continue their research, no matter how fantastic they may seem.

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