Chandrayaan-2: India to hunt for priceless Helium-3

30 Juin, 2018, 19:45 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Indian astronaut Rakesh Sharma says there should be no boundaries on the Moon

If this pans out, the isotope could provide safer nuclear energy over the coming centuries. Solar winds have bombarded the Moon with a high amount of Helium-3 because it is not protected from magnetic fields like Earth.

China had put a rover on the moon in 2013 with its Chang'e 3 mission and has plans to return later this year to explore the far side. Now India is following suit.

India is preparing its second mission to the Moon, Chandrayaan-2, for launch later this year, to continue its lunar exploration program.

"The countries which have the capacity to bring that source from the moon to Earth will dictate the process, " the Isro chairman said, adding, "I don't want to be just a part of them, I want to lead them". Now, India's space agency wants to send a rover on the Moon to detect the Helium-3 and to mine for it. According to experts, the isotope's quantity is limited on our home planet, however, it's so much abundant on the moon that theoretically, it will be enough to sustain Earth's global energy demands for the next 250 years, if we can harness it. Chandrayaan-1 craft, launched in October 2008, was completed more than 3,400 orbits and pulled out an investigation that first discovered water molecules in the surface.

This time, Chandrayaan-2 is slated to land a rover and collect information for at least 14 days and it would cover an area on the lunar surface with a 400-meter radius. The lander will receive images from the rover, and then transmit them to the ISRO for the scientists to analyze. It estimated that a ton of helium-3 could cost $5 billion, taking the total value of the total deposit available to trillions of dollars.

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"The nations which have the ability to convey that source from the moon to Earth will manage the procedure", said K. Sivan, administrator of ISRO. There are many obstacles to overcome before the material can be used - including the logistics of collection and delivery back to earth and build fusion power plants to convert the material into energy.

Apart from this, the moon will not be easy to mine. No worldwide treaty exists on the matter as of yet. "While a country state can't hold universal waters, the fish turn into the property of its anglers once angled". But India's space agency - Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) wants to do what no one has done so far.

Sharadul Amarchand Mangaldas & Company Law Firm, a partner based in Chennai, G.V. Anand Bhushan said that the government is reacting to the flow of commercial firms in the space by creating laws to control satellite launch, company registration and liability.

Yet the only astronaut in the country is not completely on the board, with the moon transforming into a business place.

"You can't go to the moon and draw boundaries", Sharma said.

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