50 years ago, a spacecraft discovered oxygen in moon rocks | Science News

ADVERTISEMENT

REAL SCIENCE. REAL NEWS.

Help us keep you informed.

Support Science News.


50 Years Ago

50 years ago, a spacecraft discovered oxygen in moon rocks

Excerpt from the October 14, 1967 issue of Science News

By
7:00am, October 5, 2017
a moon rock

OXYGEN HUNT  Scientists now know moon rocks (one shown) can contain oxygen, but researchers are still figuring out the best techniques to extract the life-sustaining oxygen from the moon’s surface.

The earthy moon

Space scientists have been intrigued for years with the possibility of finding usable oxygen on the moon — not in the lunar atmosphere, since there essentially is none, but in the rocks. As long ago as 1962 … [NASA researchers] predicted vast lunar processing plants turning out 4,000 pounds of liquid oxygen per month, both for breathing and as an oxidizer for rocket fuel…. Now the Surveyor 5 spacecraft … reveals it is standing directly over just the kind of rock that would do the job. — Science News, October 14, 1967

Update

The moon is not yet dotted with lunar oxygen factories, but scientists are still devising ways to pull oxygen from moon rocks. One technique,

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now. Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content