NASA seeks application from students for harvesting water on Moon, Mars
US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is providing a unique opportunity for university-level engineering students to participate in the quest to harvest water on the Moon and Mars. The 2021 Moon to Mars Ice and Prospecting Challenge calls for qualifying undergraduate and graduate student teams to design and develop equipment capable of detecting, mapping, and drilling through various subsurface layers, then extracting water from an ice block in a simulated off-world testbed.
Interested teams must request a project plan outlining the design and operations planned for them. The last filing date for the proposal is November 24, 2020. In December, up to 10 teams will be chosen to receive a $10,000 development stipend to build and test their systems over the next six months before demonstrating their capabilities in a three-day competition at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, next June.
Officials will grant travel stipends to top-performing teams to present their designs at a future event or aerospace conference chosen by NASA. Interested teams will also need to define the difference in how the device functions in extracting water relative to the Earth, and will also need the changes to make it practical and usable for their project.
NASA said the team’s main objective is to extract as much water as possible from simulated lunar and Martian surface slices; water is necessary for extended lunar and mars expeditions. “Water is heavy and expensive to bring from Earth,” NASA has said in its official release.
Student teams will be required to design and build hardware capable of identifying, mapping, and drilling through different subsurface layers, then extracting water from an ice block in a simulated off-world test bed, NASA said in its release.
“The water we’ll find when the next men and first women explore the lunar surface for the Artemis programme is liable to be mixed with contaminants that need to be removed before drinking, or use as fuel,” said NASA chief technologist, Douglas Terrier.