Australia Plans to Mine Water on the Moon Within Five Years

first_img The moon is hot these days. In January, China’s Chang’e-4 probe successfully landed on the far side of the moon, while Europe announced plans for a lunar mission to mine moon rock. In February, SpaceX launched Israel’s Beresheet robotic lunar lander and Japan unveiled a Toyota lunar rover for their own mission to the moon.Now, Australia has revealed its own plans to mine the moon for water within five years, Bloomberg reported.It’s an ambitious, bold project but it’s set to boost the country’s role in this new space era. And Australia does have an advantage — it has deep experience in mining and farming remote, inhospitable (and almost Mars-like) locations.According to experts, moon water could be a potential source of rocket fuel to enable manned missions to Mars in the long-term.This image shows the distribution of surface ice at the moon’s south pole (left) and north pole (right), as detected by NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper instrument, which flew aboard India’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft. (Photo Credit: NASA)“Getting things from the surface of the Earth into orbit or into deep space costs a lot of money,” Andrew Dempster, Director of the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research at the University of New South Wales, told Bloomberg. “If you can produce water in space for less than it costs to get there, then you’re ahead.”A number of Australian resources companies are already adapting terrestrial technology for space, Bloomberg reported. Australia’s biggest listed oil and gas producer, Woodside Petroleum Ltd., partnered with NASA to use robot technology to improve safety at its offshore platforms. In March, Woodside announced that it will work with the Australian Space Agency (ASA) to “promote technology transfer between the space sector and the oil and gas sector.”The CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility Parkes Observatory radio telescope in Parkes, Australia is seen in 2009. It was used by NASA during the Apollo 11 mission which saw man walk on the moon for the first time. (Photo Credit: Lisa Maree Williams / Getty Images)Though the ASA is not even a year old, Australia has a rich history in space. Just 10 years after the start of the space age, in 1967, Australia became a world player in the space race with the launch of WRESAT, the country’s first home-grown satellite. And in 1969, Australia Telescope National Facility’s Parkes radio telescope received the television signals that allowed 600 million people, one fifth of humanity at the time, to watch Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the Moon.Dempster believes taking a commercial approach to extra-terrestrial ventures and tapping a fast-growing start-up culture in the country will be key to the growth of Australia’s space program.“We’re not being weighed down by big lumbering agencies and huge multinationals,” Dempster told Bloomberg. “There’s a lot of agile people with lots of interesting ideas working in this area. Success can occur quite quickly.”More on Geek.com:50 Years On, Untouched Moon Samples Set for StudyNASA Spots ‘Hopping’ Liquid Water on Moon’s SurfaceEurope Wants tp Start Mining the Surface of the Moon by 2025 Rare Harvest Moon Will Light Up Night Sky on Friday the 13thIndia Finds Lost Vikram Lander on Moon’s Surface Stay on targetlast_img

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