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Environmental aspects of lunar helium-3 miningThree potential detrimental effects of lunar He-3 mining have been identified; visual changes, atmospheric contamination, and solid waste disposal. The removal of small craters (less than 20 m diameter) and the change in the albedo of the surface may cause a slight darkening of the regolith. However, it is not expected that this change will be visible from the earth even with powerful telescopes. The release of lunar volatile gases and their effect on the lunar 'atmosphere' is expected to be both local and temporary (on the order of a few weeks from the time of release). The solution to solid waste disposal is to recycle as much as possible and to bury the nonrecyclable waste. The lack of wind and water means that the waste will stay localized indefinitely and cause no contamination of the environment. The positive benefits of using lunar He-3 in terrestrial fusion plants far outweigh the detrimental effects of mining. The reduction in radioactive waste, greenhouse and acid gases, and the reduction in terrestrial mining for fossil fuels could have a major impact on the quality of life in the 21st century.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Kulcinski, G. L.
(NASA Headquarters Washington, DC United States)
Cameron, E. N.
(Wisconsin Univ. Madison, United States)
Carrier, W. D., III
(Bromwell & Carrier, Inc. Lakeland, FL, United States)
Schmitt, H. H.
(NASA Headquarters Washington, DC United States)
Date Acquired
August 16, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1992
Publication Information
Publication: In: Engineering, construction, and operations in space - III: Space '92; Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference, Denver, CO, May 31-June 4, 1992. Vol. 1 (A93-41976 17-12)
Subject Category
Environment Pollution
Accession Number
Distribution Limits

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