NASA manages to extract oxygen from simulated lunar dust

NASA is finding out how to establish a human colony in space and one of the necessary bases is the Moon. To do this, it is looking for ways to get water and oxygen and is already making progress in each of them.

Researchers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center have successfully extracted oxygen from simulated lunar soil, in a massive feat that could set them on a path to conquering the universe.

lunar oxygen
According to the agency, it is the first time such an extraction has been completed within a vacuum environment like the real Moon.

In the test, the team recreated conditions similar to those found on the Moon inside a 5-meter chamber called the Dirty Thermal Vacuum Chamber.

By heating a simulated soil sample using a high-powered laser inside a carbothermal reactor, the team successfully extracted oxygen from the soil.

“This technology has the potential to produce several times its own weight in oxygen per year on the lunar surface, which will allow for a sustained human presence and space economy,” said Aaron Paz, a senior engineer at NASA and the Carbothermal Reduction Demonstration project. (CaRD), manager of the Johnson Space Center, in a statement.

Now it’s time to try it on the moon
Scientists say they have developed a fully functional prototype that is ready to be tested in space.

“Our team demonstrated that the CaRD reactor would survive the lunar surface and successfully extract oxygen,” said Anastasia Ford, a NASA engineer and CaRD test manager.

“This is a big step to develop the architecture to build sustainable human bases on other planets.”

But it won’t be easy. Once on the Moon, the reactor will need to be able to maintain high pressure levels while allowing lunar soil to flow in and out of the reaction zone.