Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Prospecting For Helium-3 On The Moon

Date:
December 2, 1998
Source:
American Geophysical Union
Summary:
Future prospectors on the Moon may be assisted by resource maps developed from research by scientists in Arizona and Hawaii. The resources they will be seeking are not gold or diamonds, but helium-3 [3He], an isotope that is rare on Earth, but more common on the Moon. Helium-3 is expected to be the cleanest fuel of choice for potential 21st century fusion reactors, because its reaction is efficient and produces low residual radioactivity.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Future prospectors on the Moon may be assisted by resource maps developed from research by scientists in Arizona and Hawaii. The resources they will be seeking are not gold or diamonds, but helium-3 [3He], an isotope that is rare on Earth, but more common on the Moon. Helium-3 is expected to be the cleanest fuel of choice for potential 21st century fusion reactors, because its reaction is efficient and produces low residual radioactivity.

Related Articles


Drs. Jeffrey R. Johnson of the U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Arizona; Timothy S. Swindle of the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson; and Paul G. Lucey of the University of Hawaii's Institute of Geophysics and Planetology in Honolulu have developed a helium-3 map of the Moon based on a combination of factors they have analyzed. Their research will be published in a forthcoming issue of Geophysical Research Letters, a publication of the American Geophysical Union, as "Estimated Solar Wind-Implanted Helium-3 Distribution On The Moon."

The factors taken into account by the researchers in mapping the likely abundance of helium-3 in a given area are the exposure age of the Moon's surface matter, or regolith; the relative amount of charged particles, including helium-3, arriving from the Sun (the solar wind); and the titanium content of the lunar soil. The mineral ilmenite [FeTiO3], composed of iron, titanium, and oxygen, retains helium much better than other major lunar materials. The older soils should be better sources of helium-3, they report, because they have been exposed to the solar wind longer and contain greater amounts of fine-grained aggregates that absorb helium-3. Also, solar wind-implanted particles are more abundant on the far side, because the Earth shields the Moon's near side from the solar wind for a portion of each solar orbit.

The scientists estimate that the greatest amounts of helium-3 will be found on the far side maria, or "seas," of the Moon, due to the higher solar wind, and in nearside areas with high concentrations of titanium dioxide [TiO2]. Their hypothesis is based on analysis of rock samples brought back by Apollo astronauts and mineralogic maps produced by the Clementine spacecraft. They expect to refine their maps with new elemental composition maps produced by the Lunar Prospector spacecraft.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Geophysical Union. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Geophysical Union. "Prospecting For Helium-3 On The Moon." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 December 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/12/981202080006.htm>.
American Geophysical Union. (1998, December 2). Prospecting For Helium-3 On The Moon. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/12/981202080006.htm
American Geophysical Union. "Prospecting For Helium-3 On The Moon." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/12/981202080006.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Asteroid's Moon Spotted During Earth Flyby

Asteroid's Moon Spotted During Earth Flyby

Rumble (Jan. 27, 2015) Scientists working with NASA&apos;s Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California discovered an unexpected moon while observing asteroid 2004 BL86 during its recent flyby past Earth. Credit to &apos;NASA JPL&apos;. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 26, 2015) Scientists are preparing a group of water fleas for a unique voyage into space. The aquatic crustaceans, known as Daphnia, can be used as a miniature model for biomedical research, and their reproductive and swimming behaviour will be tested for signs of stress while on board the International Space Station. Jim Drury went to meet the team. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mars Rover Opportunity Celebrates 11-Year Anniversary

Mars Rover Opportunity Celebrates 11-Year Anniversary

Rumble (Jan. 26, 2015) Eleven years ago NASA&apos;s Opportunity rover touched down on Mars for what was only supposed to be a 90-day mission. Since then it has traveled 25.9 miles (41.7 kilometers), further than any other off-Earth surface vehicle has ever driven. Credit to &apos;NASA&apos;. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's On Course To Take Pluto's Best Photo Ever

NASA's On Course To Take Pluto's Best Photo Ever

Newsy (Jan. 25, 2015) NASA&apos;s New Horizons probe is en route to snap a picture of Pluto this summer, but making sure it doesn&apos;t miss its one chance to do so starts now. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins