It is no longer news that China successfully launched a lunar orbiter that is currently orbiting the Moon some days ago; but it is news, even to the United States, that the communist nation is preparing to harvest Helium-3 from the Moon as a source of energy to power industrial activities on Earth. With the lunar mission, the upcoming Chang’e 5 spacecraft will land softly on the Moon and then collect four pounds of soil and rock samples for subsequent analysis on Earth after its return.
The plan of China is to construct a mine where it would harvest Helium-3, a rare helium isotope, that might be used for future energy needs. Ouyang Ziyuan, chief scientist of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program states that the Moon is rich with Helium 3, and harvesting it would provide the world with a source of renewable energy through nuclear fusion.
A scientist and lecturer at the Faculty of Engineering, Imperial College, London, Matthew Genge, explained that “the inclusion of Helium 3 allows nuclear fusion to produce an immense amount of energy without the excess of radioactive waste as opposed to fission reactions, as the combination does not produce any extra neutrons.”
It is reported that 40 tons of Helium 3 would fill up the cargo bays of two spacecrafts, and this is the amount of the rare gas needed to power the United States for one full year at its current energy consumption rate.
Mining Helium 3 on Earth is nearly impossible because atmospheric and magnetic fields surrounding Earth prevents Helium 3 from penetrating Earth; but it is very abundant on the Moon because of the activity of solar winds.
With the ability to revolutionize energy production, Helium 3 was discovered to be among the lunar dirt brought back by the first people that walked the moon. The lunar dirt brought back was found to be very rich in titanium, platinum, Helium 3, and other valuable minerals. And according to a report of August 2014 by The Daily Mail, “China says mining helium from our satellite may help solve the world’s energy crisis.”
“But our satellite also contains a substance that could be of even greater use to civilization – one that could revolutionize energy production,” this was attributed to Chinese authorities in 2014, and this gave proof to The Times report of August 2014 that China was ambitious on a “mission to mine the moon.”
Image Source: China News.