Scientists find proof of 'extraterrestrial photosynthesis'. Here's what it is, how it can help us

Edited By: Moohita Kaur Garg
Beijing, China Updated: May 06, 2022, 03:52 PM(IST)

According to the researchers, the technique employs just sunlight to produce a number of useful goods including water, oxygen, and fuel that may support life on a Moonbase. Photograph:( Others )

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Many solutions for extraterrestrial survival have previously been offered by scientists. However, the majority of designs require energy from the Earth

We've grown up learning about photosynthesis i.e., the ability of plants to turn carbon dioxide into oxygen. 

But do you know that Moon's soil can turn carbon dioxide into oxygen and fuels too?

According to a team of scientists at the Nanjing University in China, lunar soil contains compounds that can achieve this. 

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In an article published in the journal Joule, the scientists proposed an "extraterrestrial photosynthesis" technique based on their findings. It primarily employs lunar soil to electrolyse water taken from the moon and in astronauts' breathing exhaust turning it into oxygen and hydrogen using sunlight as a source of energy.

The observation is based on lunar soil samples brought back to Earth by China's Chang'e 5 spacecraft. It was found that the soil contains iron-rich and titanium-rich substances that can potentially act as a catalyst to make the desired product like Oxygen using Sunlight and carbon dioxide.

According to the researchers, the technique employs just sunlight to produce a number of useful goods including water, oxygen, and fuel that may support life on a Moonbase.

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Researchers are now looking for a way to put the technology to the test in space, most likely with one of China's future crewed lunar expeditions.

Many solutions for extraterrestrial survival have previously been offered by scientists. However, the majority of designs require energy from the Earth.

"We use in-situ environmental resources to minimise rocket payload, and our strategy provides a scenario for a sustainable and affordable extraterrestrial living environment," varsity researcher Yingfang Yao stated.

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The Perseverance Mars rover, for example, carries a piece of equipment that can exploit carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

While lunar soil's catalytic effectiveness is lower than that of Earth-based catalysts, Yao says the team is experimenting with several techniques to improve the design.

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(With inputs from agencies)

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