The Quest To Find Nuclear Fuel On the Moon

Bloomberg Businessweek Middle East reports:
India’s space program wants to go where no nation has gone before — to the south side of the moon. And once it gets there, it will study the potential for mining a source of waste-free nuclear energy that could be worth trillions of dollars. The nation’s equivalent of NASA will launch a rover in October to explore virgin territory on the lunar surface and analyze crust samples for signs of water and helium-3. That isotope is limited on Earth yet so abundant on the moon that it theoretically could meet global energy demands for 250 years if harnessed….

[A]ccomplishing feats on the cheap has been a hallmark of the agency since the 1960s. The upcoming mission will cost about $125 million — or less than a quarter of Snap Inc. co-founder Evan Spiegel’s compensation last year, the highest for an executive of a publicly traded company, according to the Bloomberg Pay Index… The upcoming launch of Chandrayaan-2 includes an orbiter, lander and a rectangular rover. The six-wheeled vehicle, powered by solar energy, will collect information for at least 14 days and cover an area with a 400-meter radius. The rover will send images to the lander, and the lander will transmit those back to ISRO for analysis. A primary objective, though, is to search for deposits of helium-3. Solar winds have bombarded the moon with immense quantities of helium-3 because it’s not protected by a magnetic field like Earth is.
The European Space Agency points out that helium-3 isotope isn’t radioactive and “would not produce dangerous waste products.” And one former member of the NASA Advisory Council estimates that the moon-derived fuel could generate enough power to meet the world’s energy demands for between two at least two centuries.

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