Platinum investment stimulator the World Platinum Investment Council (WPIC) posits that platinum could assist in space travel, having had long-term associations with space exploration.
Platinum catalysts in hydrogen fuel cells were part of the pioneering technology that paved the way for the first moon landing in 1969, as well as being used on the Space Shuttle missions.
The council further highlights that a lunar rover that uses platinum-based fuel cell electric vehicle technologies is being developed in a collaboration between the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency and Toyota Motor Corporation.
In addition, the council notes that platinum catalysts have further hydrogen-related applications which could benefit the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (Nasa’s) Artemis programme – Nasa’s mission to land the first woman and the next man on the moon by 2024.
This is especially important given the recent focus on the sustainability of human missions to the moon and, in due course, Mars, states the council.
As such, the WPIC says that if ways of using resources that already exist on the moon can be found, this will decrease the cost and complexity of remote missions by reducing the need for supplies delivered from Earth.
For example, it is hoped that hydrogen – a vital fuel source for the space programme – can be derived from lunar water sources, through electrolysis. Platinum is used as a catalyst in proton exchange membrane electrolysers that use polymer electrolyte, one of the two leading electrolysis technologies currently available.
However, while the council says “boots on the moon” are not expected until at least 2024, the Artemis programme is ambitious in that it aims to open up a new frontier in humankind’s exploration of space, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before.
“This knowledge will be used to establish a sustainable presence on the moon that will eventually enable future missions to the red planet,” states the council.
Ultimately, Nasa’s intention is for spacecraft to transport crew to and from lunar orbit where they will transfer to the “Gateway” – an outpost around the moon to support human and scientific exploration in deep space, the council points out. Lunar landing systems will take astronauts to the lunar surface.
Further, earlier in January, the European Space Agency signed a contract to provide the Gateway with communications and refuelling.
Throughout the Artemis programme, the council says robots and humans will search for, and potentially extract, resources such as water that can be converted into other usable resources, including oxygen and hydrogen.
“By fine-tuning precision landing technologies as well as developing new mobility capabilities, astronauts will travel farther distances and explore new regions of the moon,” states the council.