China is planning to strip mine the moon for a rare helium 3 according to Chinese state media which reported that the service module of test lunar orbiter has successfully begun orbiting the Moon and the lunar mission will see the Chang’e 5 spacecraft perform a soft landing on the surface of the Moon, where it will collect four pounds of rock and soil samples before returning home, China Topix reported.
This strain of Helium is much different from the one most abundant on Earth (Helium-4). Helium-3's nucleus contains two protons and one neutron. It also has received a great deal of attention for its potential to produce clean nuclear fusion.
China plans to build a mine on the Moon in order to harvest a rare helium isotope, Helium-3, that scientists believe may be the key source of energy in the future.
According to the chief scientist of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program, Ouyang Ziyuan, the Moon is apparently rich with Helium 3 which, if harvested, could easily solve the world’s demands for energy by providing renewable energy through nuclear fusion.
Matthew Genge, a scientist, and lecturer at the Faculty of Engineering at the Imperial College in London, indicated 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, China Topix reported.
The report went on to indicate that 40 tons of the rare element would completely fill the cargo bays of two space shuttles, and this amount of the isotope could power the United States for an entire year at its current rate of energy consumption.
Helium 3 is rare on Earth because the atmosphere and magnetic field which surround the planet prevent any Helium 3 from landing on the surface, however, this is not the case with the Earth’s Moon, as vast quantities have been dumped on the Moon’s surface by solar winds.
The report indicated that lunar dirt brought back by mankind’s first moon-walkers contained an abundance of platinum, titanium, and other valuable minerals.
But it also included a substance that the report indicated could be “even greater user” to our civilization, a substance which could revolutionize energy production. But our satellite also contains a substance that could be of even greater use to civilisation – one that could revolutionise energy production.
A report on The Times indicated back in August of 2014 that China has “set sights” on a “mission to mine the moon.” What do you think of China’s plans to strip mine the moon for Helium-3?