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Submission + - NASA's plan to Harvest Moon Water (newscientist.com) 1

sonnejw0 writes: "Now that we have identified water on the moon, how can we harvest it for lunar bases, for power and for drinking, and will it be a renewable lunar resource? NASA is already testing possible methods of harvesting this water in the vacuum of space ... using a regular microwave oven. Do you think they used the "Defrost" or "Popcorn" setting? From the article:

"But how do you extract water that is likely locked up as small concentrations of ice in the lunar soil? Microwaves could provide the key, according to work by Edwin Ethridge of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and William Kaukler of the University of Alabama, both in Huntsville, who first demonstrated the technique in 2006."


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NASA's plan to Harvest Moon Water

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  • Perhaps I am misunderstanding the process but FTFA:

    They used an ordinary microwave oven to zap simulated lunar soil that had been cooled to moon-like temperatures of -150 ÂC. Keeping the soil in a vacuum to simulate lunar conditions, they found that heating it to just -50 ÂC with microwaves made the water ice sublimate, or transform directly from solid to vapour. The vapour then diffused out from higher-pressure pores in the soil to the low-pressure vacuum above. On the moon, the vapour could be collected by holding a cold metal plate above the soil. The rising water vapour would then condense as frost onto the cold plate and "you could scrape it off", Kaukler says.

    Apparently, nobody from NASA's Marshall Spaceflight Center has accidentally left their fork in a microwave when reheating leftovers,,, I don't think having a cold metal plate inside a microwave is a good idea, whether it be in space or not.

    Disclaimer for those without a sense of humor: They are scant on process details so perhaps I am missing something entirely.

Make it myself? But I'm a physical organic chemist!