Guide Space Chemistry

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  1. Image: Chemistry experiment on space station
  2. Molecular hang-out
  3. Featured Content
  4. Frontiers | Finding Constellations in Chemical Space Through Core Analysis | Chemistry

Please tell us what you think about Science and Technology in Action. Let us know if there are any additional features you would like us to include. Atoms and molecules are not very abundant in space and their average temperature is very low. Molecular collisions that result in chemical change are rare but, given enough time, complex molecules can form.

Image: Chemistry experiment on space station

Lesson excerpt Space science is very often associated with physics. Most Recent. If I were hypothetically wearing a spacesuit and sitting on one of the Voyager space probes at their current positions in space, how much light would I have? Intermediate What makes certain lunar eclipses so special? Beginner Why is Earth's core molten? Intermediate What will happen to Earth's tides as the moon moves away from us? Intermediate How can spiral galaxies keep their shape? Advanced Does a black hole have a "surface"? Intermediate How can you link telescopes to make a bigger "effective telescope"?

Intermediate What should I know about the upcoming Solar Eclipse ? Beginner Do galaxies that are receding from us faster than the speed of light disappear from our observations?

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Intermediate Why are astronomers interested in gravitational waves? Editor's Pick. What is the universe expanding into? Intermediate What do I need to do to become an astronomer? Beginner What's the difference between astronomy and astrology? Beginner Why is looking out into space the same as looking back in time?

Beginner Can we find the place where the Big Bang happened? Most Popular.

Molecular hang-out

Beginner At what speed does the Earth move around the Sun? Beginner Is the distance from the Earth to the Sun changing? Advanced What color is each planet? Drop towers, ground simulation facilities, sounding rockets, and airplanes owned by space agencies and private companies provide opportunity for microgravity experiments from a few seconds to several minutes. In case of long-term experiments, one can use satellites or on-board testing on the ISS is possible.

The availability of sufficient and renewable energy supply is crucial to support long-term space exploration and to sustain our society on Earth. Carbon dioxide is one of the potential energy sources that can be utilized either on Mars or on Earth. The Martian atmosphere consists of ca.

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Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, and even though the amount of CO 2 in Earth's atmosphere is below 0. Actions have been undertaken to decrease CO 2 emission and also to utilize it as a renewable energy source and for the production of raw materials Figure 3 a. The methanol economy, proposed by George Olah, is a future economy model in which methanol is the main source of energy Figure 3 b [37]. Methanol can be directly produced from CO 2 through reduction with H 2 or via electrochemical methods utilizing water. Other hydrocarbons, such as longer alcohols ethanol, propanol , formates, or carbonates, can potentially be produced too.

Figure 3. The task of establishing a CO 2 based economy is however not easy. The reduction of CO 2 is energetically challenging and requires an appropriate catalyst and energy input [38]. The capture of CO 2 from the atmosphere mimics nature's photosynthesis but requires the development of high efficiency technologies. Even if all these issues are solved, the other side of the chemical equation has to be balanced; therefore, reliable source of hydrogen either in the form of dihydrogen, water, or protons is necessary.

As a sustainable energy input, the high UV component of sunlight could be exploited for the photocatalytic reduction of CO 2 [39]. Recently, Rajeshwar and coworkers developed a method for the solar photoelectrosynthesis of methanol using a copper-based catalyst [40]. The continuous-flow electroreduction of carbon dioxide is an emerging area [41]. It does not require much imagination to conceptualize a light powered continuous-flow electrosynthesis system for methanol production.

It is important to note that most often O 2 is produced on the anode as a byproduct and could potentially be used to maintain the atmosphere of a spaceship or a Martian colony. Finally, and going beyond the reduction of CO 2 , continuous-flow photochemistry has demonstrated its applicability in a wide range of fields from organic synthesis to material science and waste water treatment [42].

Flow nanonization on Earth is getting more and more important due to the better control of the parameters of nanoformulation and easier scalability [43]. Nanonization of drugs and pharmaceuticals can lead to increased bioavailability both on Earth and in space [44]. Furthermore, the enhanced absorption of nanonized nutrients might be a key for the future of space farming [45]. The culminating waste in industrialized regions brings up the necessity to develop commercially benefiting, technologically efficient, and environmentally benign methods to collect, transform, and reuse waste, which is in fact an essential need during space travel too.

A proposed space technology for organic waste treatment comprises a technology which treats the organic waste in a batch process involving waste collection, decomposition with anaerobic and heterotrophic bacteria, and production of the recycled biomass. A waste conversion technology in flow can be conceptualized using immobilized bacteria [46].

The one-dimensional barrier penetration of particles, the so-called quantum mechanical tunneling QMT is a quantum mechanical effect which may lead to very unusual, unexpected chemical transformations [ 31 ]. It bears high scrutiny under low-energy conditions, where conventional kinetic reaction rates are negligible. Quantum tunneling has been rationalized by theoretical and experimental studies in charge, proton [47], carbon [48], and light heteroatom [49] transfer reactions. In outer space, the reactants have to face conditions suitable for QMT. Furthering our understanding of QMT might allow us to synthesize unusual chemical structures.

These substances can be captured by solid noble elements under cryogenic conditions 10—15 K matrix isolation. At this temperature, the reaction is frozen in the classic kinetic sense; however, product formation can occur via QMT. We have already mentioned the illnesses and the reduced drug lifetime which might hamper a deep-space exploration. How can we ensure the access to the needed pharmaceuticals? Flow chemistry is prognosticated to take a vital role in LOTF. Chemists are not yet at the stage where this can be done for any molecule, but the automated synthesis of specific compound libraries [52], active pharmaceutical ingredients [53], or even the end-to-end continuous manufacturing of certain pharmaceuticals is indeed possible [54].

Furthermore, Fitzpatrick and Ley created a cloud-based reactor system which can be monitored and remote-controlled through an internet browser [55]. Once our technology is able to produce drugs on demand, the concept could be readily extended to other useful materials.

Although the optimal methods to mine an asteroid has been studied and debated for decades and several technical challenges need to be solved, there is no question asteroid mining could one day become a booming part of the global or universal economy. Hydraulic fracturing or hydrofracking is a good stimulation technique when fissured rocks are fractured by pressurized liquid, especially water, often containing sand.

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Frontiers | Finding Constellations in Chemical Space Through Core Analysis | Chemistry

This method is applied to excavate natural gas, petroleum, or brine from deep-rock formations. Although this application is quite controversial in many countries on Earth, this procedure might be of great help to mine the invaluable materials from dwarf planets, asteroids, and other near-Earth objects NEOs. The loosely bound ores of rare-earth elements and expensive transition metals might be mined by this flow technique and utilized on the spot.

Moreover, rocket fuel could be produced from carbonaceous chondrites, which are rich in water. In , researchers realized the importance of the emerging field of space chemistry. To tackle the challenges and opportunities mentioned in this article, the Flow Chemistry Society established the Space Chemistry Project [56], a consortium for academic experts, industry innovators, and decision-makers from the top pharma and other chemistry and life-science firms. The worldwide network is constantly growing as space opens new routes for chemistry Table 2.

The consortium envisions to enable the routine practice of chemical synthesis in outer space to benefit humanity. Table 2. Members of the Space Chemistry Consortium. There is a vast amount of research associated with space research, yet space chemistry is still in its infancy.

The Chemistry of Space - HowStuffWorks NOW

Nevertheless, we can expect remarkable development in the next couple of years, thanks to the new directions marked out by the members of the Space Chemistry Consortium and SpacePharma. Flow chemistry can now open the door to study organic chemistry in space for the first time. Flow chemistry in space—a unique opportunity to perform extraterrestrial research.

Share this article. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial 4. Keywords: Space chemistry , microgravity , carbon dioxide conversion. Previous Achievements and Present Approaches. Scientific Aspects.