# Can Ozone (O$_3$) form in a vacuum and if so can it deflect solar radiation

I am working on a geoengineering/space infrastructure project and part of that includes the possibility of using oxygen mined from the moon (specifically lunar regolith) to cause ballistic objects to spin spreading particles in a loose shield to reflect sunlight. The material would all be collected back on the moon which would intercept the orbit of the material. However, as ozone is just 3 oxygen atoms that connect together in the presence of sunlight, would releasing clouds of oxygen in a way that pushes the clouds together allow the formation of O$$_3$$, even temporarily?

If this would work, would O$$_3$$ free-floating in very loose clouds in space help deflect solar radiation at all?

This is part of a larger project to create targeted shading effects to produce a limited risk effect on the earth like regrowing ice sheets. There are a lot of reasons for people to find this project silly but all the research I have done continues to support it in new and interesting ways and any concerns people have raised so far have theoretical solutions. So please don't take time to simply criticize without providing meaningful feedback.

If this would work, would $$O_3$$ free-floating in very loose clouds in space help deflect solar radiation at all?

No, for many reasons:

• Your cloud will disperse. That's what gases do in vacuum.
• And then the dispersed cloud will get swept away by radiation pressure and the solar wind.
• So you'll have to be constantly replenishing your loose cloud.
• There are 3 billion metric tons of ozone in the Earth's atmosphere.
• Compare that huge quantity with the 380.95 kilograms of lunar rock brought back by the six Apollo missions that landed on the Moon, or the 0.401 kilograms retrieved by Russia's unmanned Luna missions.

The engineering feat you are proposing is more than six orders of magnitude larger than anything humankind has done with regard to space. The Apollo program peak cost was a bit less than 5% of the total US federal budget. A factor of ten (one order of magnitude) larger scope would be far beyond the capabilities of the US government. Even with the entire world pitching in, a two order of magnitude increase would be nearly impossible. A six order of magnitude increase is economically impossible.

The worst part: Even if successful, your cloud won't do much. Oxygen in all its forms (atomic oxygen, molecular oxygen, and ozone) is nicely transparent in the frequency range where sunlight is at its peak. Evidence: You can see the stars on a clear night.

• Thank you for the concise feedback. I do know that ozone does protect against some wavelengths and was hoping it would add to the primary method of blocking light I am considering (raw or ground lunar regolith or thin metal sheets from metals mined on the moon). Feb 26 '20 at 3:00

How exactly are you planning to mine the lunar regolith for oxygen? The oxygen is chemically bonded to metallic cations and it is very energy intensive to extract as molecular oxygen. You might as well not block the sunlight and use solar panels as an energy source for the separation of oxygen. Mining in itself is a very dusty endeavour, and given that the Moon's gravity is pretty low, just disturbing the regolith can be enough to agitate some dust to shield from solar radiation.

Even then, ozone is highly unstable. It is an oxidiser, and will quickly react by:

$$\ce{2O_3 -> 3O_2}$$

To simple molecular oxygen. Why ozone anyway? I really don't understand what you're trying to do here.

• i think the op wants to limit the global warming and are thinking ozone sounds like an option to do this,it is possibly a result of misunderstanding how ozone works in the atmosphere. Feb 25 '20 at 15:53
• This topic is in regards to possible secondary use for a system that would project raw regolith or metal sheets around the earth to land back on the moon where it is reused. This would create targeted shading which could be safer and more useful than static or orbiting sunshading. Lunar mining might end up being easier than expected considering elephant trunk devices if you are able to grind down the material as it is mined it be possible to transport the material easier and cheaper than on earth. Feb 26 '20 at 3:05
• @T.A.McKay I was always sceptical of space mining, here, on worldbuilding.SE, and on chemistry.SE. Comb through my network profile to see what I've written it about before. But regardless of that, I still don't understand where the ozone is coming from, and why ozone. Feb 26 '20 at 3:07
• @trond, correct, though as a secondary/sublimentary idea. Feb 26 '20 at 3:08
• @T.A.McKay yes I understand the overall goal of what you're trying to do. I'm just confused by the specifics and technical details. Is the oxygen used as the fuel to spin your ballistic objects? Why oxygen? Why specifically ozone? Do you want to use dust as sun shields and oxygen as the way to disperse it, or do you want to use the actual gas as a sun shield? Help us help you by clarifying the question Feb 26 '20 at 3:18

I think mining oxygen from the moon in vast quantities would be a very expensive project and would deplete the ice believed to be present in some lunar craters at the poles. This would be better used to provide drinking water for astronauts. Obtaining oxygen by other methods would be even more expensive and difficult.

Ballistic objects will spin without the aid of oxygen. A shell is made to spin by the rifling in the barrel of the cannon which fires it, and this would also happen if the cannon was fired on the moon.

If you could release vast clouds of O2 on the moon, solar radiation would ionise it to O3 just as happens in the upper atmosphere of Earth, but to form a protective barrier which could intercept ultraviolet radiation would require unrealistically large quantities of O2 which could never be obtained. Whether you mean a protective barrier for the moon or an additional protective barrier for the Earth, it is not feasible that enough oxygen could be obtained to give a useful result.

• sources please they do exist,you manage to find them when you post comments but they are totally absent in the answers. Feb 25 '20 at 9:39