| 2 October 2023, Monday |

Can astronauts live on the Moon? Scientists reveal how it’s possible

The Moon, frequently viewed as a crucial stepping stone toward Mars exploration, holds an abundance of vital resources essential for modern technology. Nevertheless, human activity on the lunar surface has been quite restricted since the conclusion of the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. With NASA’s ambitious Artemis Programme taking the lead and striving to establish a lunar outpost by 2030, the need for a dependable energy source on the Moon has become of utmost importance, especially in regions where temperatures can drop dramatically to as low as -248°C.
In a recent development, scientists at Bangor University in the UK have devised miniature nuclear fuel cells, each no larger than a poppy seed, capable of generating the energy required to sustain life in such an extreme environment, as reported by BBC.

The Bangor University research team collaborated with prominent entities including Rolls Royce, the UK Space Agency, NASA, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US. Together, they embarked on the project of creating a power source suitable for lunar living conditions.
At the heart of this initiative lies a diminutive nuclear fuel cell, aptly named Trisofuel. This innovation has the potential to fuel a micro nuclear generator, engineered by Rolls Royce. To validate its feasibility, the Trisofuel is currently undergoing rigorous testing, emulating the strenuous conditions of space travel. This thorough evaluation aims to prepare the Trisofuel for deployment within a lunar base by the target year of 2030.

Remarkably, the generator itself is a portable device, comparable in size to a small car or even something pocket-sized, offering exceptional adaptability for lunar missions.

Professor Simon Middleburgh, a leading authority in Nuclear Materials and Co-director of the Nuclear Futures Institute at Bangor University, who spoke to the BBC, expressed his enthusiasm about this project.

He stated, “This project will harness the expertise in nuclear fuels which we have within the Nuclear Futures Institute and apply it to one of the most exciting applications possible: space exploration.”
Notably, the recent success of India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission, which achieved a historic soft landing near the Moon’s south pole, demonstrates the growing interest in lunar exploration. This accomplishment marked India as the fourth country to achieve a soft lunar landing, joining the ranks of the US, China, and the former Soviet Union. As space agencies and researchers continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in space exploration, innovations like the Trisofuel promise to play a pivotal role in enabling sustainable human presence on celestial bodies beyond our home planet.

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