The Australian Space Agency and NASA have recently signed an agreement to launch a lunar rover to collect as much lunar rock from the surface as possible to provide oxygen.
Although the Moon’s atmosphere is not compatible with the survival of the human race, it contains plenty of oxygen. The problem is that this precious oxygen is trapped in the rocks and fine dust covering the Moon’s surface, the regolith. But regolith is 45% oxygen. To extract it would require a huge amount of energy: the solid metal oxide would have to be converted into a liquid, which could be done by heat or heat mixed with electrolytes. Not to mention the fact that the equipment needed to do this would also have to be delivered to the Moon.
In any case, 1 m3 of regolith contains an average of 1.4 tonnes of minerals, 630 kg of which is oxygen. If NASA’s calculations are correct, 1 human needs about 800 g of oxygen per day, i.e. 630 kg would be enough for 2 years. Assuming an average depth of 10 m in the regolith, this would mean millions of years of sustained oxygen for 8 billion people.
A Belgium-based start-up company, optimistic about the project, is also working on developing 3 experimental reactors to improve the production of oxygen by electrolysis. They hope to launch this technology to the moon by 2025. If our researchers are successful, a significant proportion of humanity could be evacuated to the Moon if life on Earth becomes impossible.