Lunar exploration close to daily life

Updated: 2010-10-01 21:14
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BEIJING -- In the wake of the launch of China's second lunar probe, Chang'e-2, space experts explain how the lunar exploration program affects the lives of ordinary people.

The progress of basic science and advanced technologies, boosted by the country's lunar project, would drive the country's economic development, said experts at China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).

Many of leading information, biological and new materials technologies, among others, in the United States were based on its Apollo missions, according to the CASC.

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The Moon's vacuum and weak gravity could produce ultra-high purity metals, monocrystal silicon and high purity drugs.

Also, the Moon's energy sources and minerals were important complements to the Earth's resources.

One focus is helium-3, an isotope that can be used in nuclear fusion and is considered a future source of energy for mankind in the 21st century. It contains hardly any radioactive contamination.

Though scarce on the Earth, helium-3 is abundant on the Moon, which has an estimated 1 million to 5 million tonnes, which could last for more than 10,000 years.

Establishing solar power stations on the Moon could be a possible way to gain new energy as solar radiation on the Moon could reach 1.2 billion kilowatts per year.

Wu Ji, director of the Center for Space Science and Applied Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said the lunar exploration project could help deepen research on the Earth-Moon space environment.

Wu cited a solar burst in 1859 when the geomagnetic index was reduced by two thirds.

"If such a solar burst occurred, all satellites would become invalid, satellite communication would cease, satellite cloud pictures of weather forecast and the Global Position System would disappear, with vessels and aircraft colliding," he said.

Yan Jun, chief scientist of China's lunar exploration project, said the exploration had encouraged many young Chinese to study science and space, and students of astronomy were in demand in the job market.