diggin on the Moon


Lunar Helium-3: To Mine or Not to Mine
By Amy Teitel

The Apollo astronauts who walked on the Moon between 1969 and 1972 brought back just under 842 pounds of rocks and regolith. In 1985, engineers at the University of Wisconsin found that some samples contained significant amount of Helium-3. Helium-3 (or He3) is a stable isotope of helium that we can use to produce clean energy through nuclear fusion. For some, it’s a way to solve the world’s energy crisis. But others see it as a little more complicated. If it can be done, it’s a long way off.

For some, mining He3 from the Moon is a compelling reason to return. It’s a rare isotope on Earth: it’s carried by the solar wind but can’t penetrate our atmosphere. It’s plentiful on the Moon because the Moon has no atmosphere to deflect the solar wind away. He3 builds up in the regolith. But before looking at the arguments for and against using lunar-derived He3 as an energy source on Earth, it’s worth taking a second to look at what sets the isotope apart and how it could be used.

Lunar Helium-3: To Mine or Not to Mine « AmericaSpace

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