A team of astronomers from the University of Manchester in collaboration with researchers from Spain and Mexico have discovered a very rare and valuable gas 4,000 light-years from Earth, the web portal Phys.org reported.
Helium-3 is a gas that can be used in various fields. For example, it could be used as a fuel for nuclear power plants as well as in cryogenics and medicine.
Using the largest antenna of NASA’s Madrid Deep Space Communication Complex, researchers discovered vast helium-3 reserves in space.
The gas exists on Earth as well, but in very small quantities. According to estimates, the amount of helium-3 in a distant nebula exceeds earth reserves by about 500 times.
The researchers analyzed the relevant data and proved that helium-3 is produced in the center of stars and is ejected into space at the end of their lives. For example, scientists say that after several billion years the Sun will begin to eject the gas as well.
The discovery was made by researchers from the University of Manchester, UK, the Centro de Astrobiología and the Deep Space Network, Spain and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
A full report on the study is published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Source: Sputnik News
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Earlier in May we heard how huge mining operations are planned to take place on the moon in an attempt to source helium-3:
‘Indian scientists working tirelessly on Mine the Moon for Helium-3’
Renowned defence technologist A. Sivathanu Pillai, said Indian scientists were working tirelessly to mine the moon for Helium-3, which could be used in nuclear reactors to provide enormous amount of power without any harmful carbon emissions or radioactive products.
He was addressing the gathering of academicians and research students at the two-day National level Conference on Science, Engineering and Technology (NCSET–2016) organised by School of Electronics Engineering, VIT University, Chennai campus on Monday.
In his plenary address, he urged the students to pursue research-oriented subjects. He said, currently, a number of global scientists, including those from India were working on International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor and their focus was to develop a fusion reactor that used helium 3 and deuterium. Interestingly, the solar winds have helium, but our atmosphere absorbs it.
However, on the moon, there is no atmosphere as such and helium lies there untapped. “I hope that in the next two decades, we could see missions being carried out to tap the resources in moon,” the scientist said.
Mr. Pillai exuded confidence that high availability of thorium — India accounts for one-third of world reserves — would enable the country to achieve the target of 40,000 MW nuclear power generation by 2020.
Source: The Hindu