Enabling the Artemis Missions: Landing a Permanent Supply of Oxygen
For our one-week moon pod mission, I would like to have a five people team. Our team geologist will analyze samples to take home while an aerospace physician will treat us if needed and monitor effects of gravity. The team botanist will study the potential for lifeforms while an electronics and telecommunications engineer will keep us linked to NASA ground control and help me, a mechanical engineer with automation and engineering aspects. For all, field expertise, multidisciplinary attitude, adaptability, calm temperament in adversity, and team cohesiveness will be important attributes. As role models to millions, the team members will also be excellent communicators.
Craters on the lunar south pole contain ice while their rims receive continuous solar exposure. We will leave an oxygen producing rover near such a rim. This machine using UV/Vis will identify O2-containing ilmenite-rich rocks, grind them, and heat to 1050C using a solar energy concentrator. Using H2, ilmenite will be reduced giving water as the byproduct. Electrolysis of water using electricity from solar panels will give H2 and O2. O2 will be compressed into refillable cylinder-packs for future astronauts while H2 will be recycled for ilmenite reduction, diminishing the need for fresh lunar ice.
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