The amount is enough to allow living beings to breathe for a hundred thousand years. The surface layer of our satellite is rich in H2O.
There is so much oxygen on the Moon that the entire human population of about eight billion people can breathe for a hundred thousand years. The surface layer of our satellite is rich in H2O. To identify this condition was Professor John Grant, a scientist specializing in soil science at the University of the Southern Cross, an Australian university with campuses in New South Wales and Queensland. The study was published in The Conversation. The scientist explained that oxygen is found trapped in the minerals that make up the surface of the Moon.
The analysis on the presence of oxygen on the Moon
Grant pointed out that the weak lunar atmosphere is composed mainly of hydrogen, argon and neon, substances that cannot support the life of oxygen-breathing mammals such as humans. This compound is found enclosed in the lunar regolith, that set of dust and rock that makes up the surface layer of the satellite. However, there are also a set of minerals such as "silica, aluminum and oxides of iron and magnesium", derived from the impact of meteorites and it is within these components that is trapped the oxygen that living things need to breathe.
How to extract oxygen from the Moon
Also Professor Grant pointed out that the regolith is composed of 45% oxygen. In order to extract it from rocks, gravel and dust, however, an energy-intensive procedure called electrolysis is required. This means that it will be necessary to bring on the Moon of the specific reactors that will be powered by solar energy or other sources to be found on the satellite. The Belgian company Space Applications Services is already developing next-generation reactors that could allow the extraction of oxygen. The instruments could then be tested directly on the Moon in the next few years, in a mission by the European Space Agency (ESA). There is an abundance of oxygen on the Moon that, if it can be extracted, could allow the entire human population to breathe. Professor Grant has calculated that in every cubic meter of lunar regolith there are 630 kilograms of oxygen.
Nasa has specified that each person breathes about 800 grams of oxygen per day to live and, considering only the first 10 meters of depth of the Moon's surface, it is therefore possible to estimate an amount of oxygen such as to allow the breathing of eight billion people for 100 thousand years.
While preparing the return of man on the Moon in 2025, was also measured the temperature of our satellite. Another study has instead identified the presence of frozen carbon dioxide.