Sunday, January 20, 2008


Salon's got an awesome article up about lunar resources, and asks the question, "Who owns the moon?" (Hint: It's not you.)

Lunar soil is rife with platinum group metals, which are exceedingly rare on Earth and are key to helping hydrogen fuel cells operate efficiently. Then there's the real golden ticket: helium-3, deposited on the moon's surface by radioactive solar winds. When combined with deuterium, an isotope of hydrogen, helium-3 can initiate fusion reactions so potent that scientists estimate a single space-shuttle load of the stuff could power all the homes and businesses in the United States for a year.

"The moon contains 10 times more energy in the form of helium-3 than all the fossil fuels on the Earth," former Indian President Abdul Kalam told attendees at 2004's International Conference on Exploration and Utilization of the Moon. Gerald Kulcinski, director of the University of Wisconsin's Fusion Technology Institute, thinks helium-3 could potentially power future long-distance space travel, though it could take decades before a commercial helium-3 reactor becomes available.

Via Geraldo Canavan.

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