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Helium3, Fuel of the Future    by Anurag Sharma

With Indian and Chinese plans for the Lunar missions, a new race for the Moon has started. This time it is not purely a scientific mission. It is believed that within next few decades, the Moon will be much more than a scientific outpost; it could become a vital commercial frontier. Large companies like Lockheed Martin are currently developing technologies to enable future lunar residents to exploit the lunar surface mainly to convert Moon dust into oxygen and water or even in a future rocket fuel.

But the real prize lying in the moon rocks is way beyoynd these considerations. It is Helium-3, the fuel of the future. Scientists believe that this helium 3 could be used to create a new source of almost inexhaustible, clean, pollution-free energy on Earth.

"A metric ton of helium 3 would supply about one-sixth of the energy needs today of the British Isles," a scientist claims. Plans are already afoot in the US and Russia to strip-mine lunar helium 3 and transport it the 240,000 miles (385,000km) back to Earth.

The Moon, claims Professor Jerry Kulcinski of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, could become the Persian Gulf of the 21st Century.

"If we had gold bricks stacked up on the surface of the Moon, we couldn't afford to bring them back. This material - at several billion dollars a tonne - is what makes it all worthwhile."


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[सभी चित्र भारतीय अन्तरिक्ष अनुसंधान संस्थान द्वारा - Photo Courtesy: Indian Space Research Organisation]

© Anurag Sharma