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Lunar Ilmenite: Next Gen Fuel Source
The United States plans on having a fully functional self-sufficient lunar facility by the year 2021. One important factor in this undertaking is the mineral ilmenite (pictured left).
~ Metallic, Submetallic Luster
~ Black Color
~ 5-6 Hardness
~ Black to reddish-brown Streak;
~ A common accessory mineral in igneous rocks.
In recent years, an increased effort has been made to find resources easily available on the moon in order to accomplish this goal. Many have suggested that the production of titanium and other valuable elements would aid the building of a Permanent Lunar Base (PLB). Scientists have also focused their attention on the production of oxygen propellant and helium-3 as a nuclear fusion fuel.
Both of these factors have been widely examined within lunar ilmenite. Locations of ilmenite-rich deposits have been made in high-titanium mare basalts and within pyroclastic deposits. Recently, it has been suggested that the ilmenite-rich pyroclastic deposits are the most suitable site for mining operations to produce oxygen, helium, and to establish a PLB.
ECONOMIC RESOURCES OF ILMENITE
~ Liquid oxygen for use as propellant and in the artificial atmospheres of the lunar bases
~ Iron, titanium, and many other valuable elements are by-products of ilmenite reduction to extract oxygen. These by-products can be very useful as material in space construction.
~ Helium-3 from solar winds can be used in fusion reactions with conversion efficencies up to 70%
Ilmenite-rich pyroclastic flows would be the best area to build a PLB (like the one pictured right) and commence mining operations. The vast deposits of up to 30,000km^2 are unconsolidated and block-free, making for easy/accessible mining. The deposits also have adequate thicknesses to provide enough shielding & building material to protect the PLB from meteorite impacts or space radiation.
Created by: Andrew Retzler
(click here to view p. 2 of my glog!)
An awesome rover on the moon for mining operations (fictional, of course)