AAPG's Latest Technical Publication Takes an In-depth Look at Harvesting Energy and Mineral Resources in the Solar System

May 07, 2013, 14:30 ET from AAPG

TULSA, Okla., May 7, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) announced today the release of its latest technical publication, Energy Resources for Human Settlement in the Solar System and Earth's Future in Space, a compilation of peer-reviewed geologic studies.  The book, available in hardcover from AAPG at http://store.aapg.org, and at AAPG's national convention in Pittsburgh, Pa., May 19-22, takes a fascinating look at the role extraterrestrial energy and mineral resources will play to support future human habitation of near-Earth Space, the Moon, Mars and asteroids.  NASA recently announced plans to once again send manned missions to space by 2017, with a priority to capture and study an asteroid.

Edited by geologist William A. Ambrose, co-vice chair of the AAPG Astrogeology Committee;  Dr. James F. Reilly II,  former NASA astronaut and exploration geologist; and Douglas C. Peters, president and COO of ARNEVUT Resources, the publication is a unique, comprehensive and integrated review of energy and mineral resources in the Solar System, including materials that can support future manned expeditions and colonies in space, as well as provide energy and natural resources for Earth.  Dr. Harrison H. Schmitt, a world-renowned geologist and former NASA astronaut who walked on the moon during the Apollo 17 mission, authors the second chapter of the book, which focuses on Helium-3 energy.

"My colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Fusion Technology Institute recognized the long-term terrestrial energy potential of what had been found in the first samples of lunar soil," Dr. Schmitt said.  "That certainly stimulated my ideas about producing Helium-3 energy from the lunar regolith."

Studies of moon rocks collected from the U.S. Apollo missions have revealed the existence of many of the same rock-forming minerals found on Earth, including Helium-3.  Although rare on Earth, Helium-3 is a light, non-radioactive isotope of helium used in nuclear fusion research, cryogenics, industrial production and medical lung imaging—and thought to be abundant on the Moon.

"As we move away from our home planet, as surely as we moved to explore the Antarctic in the 20th century, we will need to find and capitalize on energy resources throughout our solar system," Dr. Reilly said.  "If we can make fusion energy production viable, Helium-3 would be a very efficient fuel for the reaction.  Another energy source is water.  Now that we are pretty certain ice exists at the lunar poles and have documented water ice on Mars, we have the basics for chemical propellants for vehicles.  Not just rockets, but the ability to power fuel cells."

In addition to lunar resources, such as water ice, hydrogen, helium-3 and metals, the book also discusses hydrocarbon possibilities on Mars, Titan, space-based solar energy, and other mineral resources.  Regulatory and policy issues related to energy resources and human settlement beyond earth also are explored.

Energy Resources for Human Settlement in the Solar System and Earth's Future in Space is part of AAPG's Memoir series, the premier series of peer-reviewed scientific publications.

About AAPG

Founded in 1917, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) is the world's largest professional geological association with more than 38,000 members across 120 countries.  Members include a diverse range of geoscience professionals and academicians.  The AAPG works to advance the science of geoscience through shared scientific research, continuing education, publications, career advancement and fingertip access to the largest online library of exploration analogs, data and geo-referenced mapping, logs, cross sections and photos.  To learn more about AAPG, visit www.aapg.org.