NASA invites engineering students to help harvest water on Mars, Moon

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on August 14, 2020

The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is inviting applications from eligible undergraduate and graduate student teams to help harvest water on the Moon and Mars.

The space agency has announced its 2021 Moon to Mars Ice and Prospecting Challenge for university-level engineering students. Eligible student teams can design and build hardware that can help astronauts harvest water on the surface of the Moon and Mars.

“Water is heavy and expensive to bring from Earth,” NASA said in its official 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 Douglas Terrier, NASA chief technologist.

“Learning how to safely and efficiently prospect for and harvest water is key for sustainable human exploration – not only on the Moon, but also on Mars and at other far reaches of our solar system.”

Students teams will be required to “design and build hardware that can identify, map, and drill through various subsurface layers, then extract water from an ice block in a simulated off-world test bed, NASA said.

The main goal is to harvest the highest amount of water possible from “simulated slices” of the surface of Moon and Mars.

Teams will also require to identify the difference between how the system functions in harvesting water as compared to the Earth and will also be required the modifications that their prototype will need to make it functional and scalable.

The submission deadline for the proposed concept design and operations is November 24. NASA will select up to 10 teams in December. These teams will 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.”

Published on August 14, 2020

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