Lunar exploration is the starting point for mankind to march towards the sea of stars. The focus of lunar exploration in the new era has shifted to developing lunar resources and establishing lunar bases. Many countries in the world have listed the development and utilization of lunar resources and the construction of lunar bases as important strategic goals in the new round of lunar exploration plans. The United States even passed the “Commercial Space Launch Competition Act” as early as 2015, stipulating that any resources discovered by American individuals or companies on asteroids or the moon, including minerals, water, etc., belong to the discoverer. Luxembourg promulgated the “Law on the Development and Utilization of Space Resources” in 2016, and China also announced in 2019 that it would open up the Earth-Moon Economic Zone, the main purpose of which is to develop and utilize the moon and space resources. It can be seen that the competition for lunar resources will inevitably become increasingly fierce. So what are the unique or rich resources on the moon that make many countries in the world crazy about it?
First of all, helium-3 resources must be No. 1 among the lunar resources that have attracted much attention. Helium-3 is an efficient, clean, safe, and cheap nuclear fusion fuel for power generation that has been recognized worldwide. According to calculations, 10 tons of helium-3 can meet all of my country’s energy needs in one year, and 100 tons of helium-3 can provide the world’s total energy consumption for one year. But the reserves of helium-3 on the earth are very small, only a few hundred kilograms. The preliminary results of lunar exploration indicate that the lunar soil contains millions of tons of helium-3. This news can be described as exciting and exciting, because it means that after the deuterium-helium-3 nuclear fusion reaction has been achieved, such a wealth of helium-3 on the moon can continue to provide fuel for mankind’s energy needs for more than 10,000 years. ! This is bound to have a major and far-reaching impact on the economic and social development of mankind, and can effectively solve the energy crisis facing mankind.
I believe everyone is already familiar with solar energy. At present, the use of solar energy on the earth has begun to gradually enter our lives. So on the moon, does the establishment of solar power stations play a more important role? Let us take a look at how abundant solar energy is on the moon. Since the moon has no atmosphere, solar radiation can directly illuminate the surface of the moon without any obstruction. In addition, one day on the moon is equivalent to 14 days on the earth. Therefore, the establishment of solar power plants on the moon can obtain abundant and stable solar energy. The solar radiation energy reaching the moon every year is about 12 trillion kilowatts, which is equivalent to 25,000 times the total energy produced in a year on the earth. This is simply shocking! How to use the moon’s solar energy has become one of the hottest topics in the new energy field. For this reason, some people have opened their minds and put forward the idea of ”wearing a solar belt on the moon”, which seems rather crazy. It is to lay a circle of solar panels along the moon’s equator, so that a steady stream of energy can be obtained, which can not only provide energy support for the future lunar base, but also can transmit solar energy back to the earth through microwave or laser. This idea sounds very sci-fi, but with the rapid development of science and technology, it may be realized one day, and then mankind will benefit infinitely.
In addition to helium-3 resources and solar energy, there are also abundant mineral resources on the moon. Among them, ilmenite and Krippite have attracted much attention. Lunar sea basalt is rich in ilmenite resources. It is estimated that the total resource of ilmenite in lunar sea basalt is about 1,000-2,000 trillion tons. After mining and beneficiation, ilmenite is not only the main component of the building materials needed to prepare the lunar base, but also the raw material for extracting metallic iron and titanium. In addition, it can also be used as an important raw material for the production of water and rocket fuel liquid oxygen. Krippite is a special kind of rock on the moon, named after it is rich in K (potassium), REE (rare earth elements) and P (phosphorus), and also rich in radioactive elements thorium and uranium. It is estimated that the total amount of rare earth elements in the Krip rock in the lunar storm ocean is about 20-45 billion tons, which is much higher than the total rare earth reserves of the world. How to conduct efficient mining and beneficiation on the moon, and how to comprehensively develop and utilize these rich mineral resources, these are bound to be important issues that need to be resolved urgently.
The moon has special space environmental resources that are completely different from the earth: ultra-high vacuum, no atmospheric activity, ultra-clean, weak gravity, no magnetic field, stable geological structure, etc. The establishment of a lunar astronomical observatory on the moon can effectively eliminate all kinds of radio interference on the earth, which is very beneficial for astronomical observation and will open a new window for studying the universe. The establishment of an earth observation station on the moon can not only monitor the changes in the earth’s global environment, but also has very important military strategic significance. Establish a lunar laboratory on the moon and use the special environment of the moon to carry out research, development, and production of medicine, biology, and materials, and special biological products and new materials can be developed.
In short, there are abundant resources on the moon, which can not only solve the problem of increasingly scarce resources and energy on the earth, but also have important significance for the sustainable development of mankind. As the German weekly “Science” said: Today, when the earth’s resources are becoming more and more depleted, the moon and other planets have become the target of attention of all countries in the world, including the United States. From the perspective of sustainable development, the energy and resources on the earth will be exhausted sooner or later, and sooner or later humans will fly to the solar system and into outer space.