NASA has invited applications from engineering-level students for its 2021 Moon to Mars Ice and Prospecting Challenge
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is inviting applications from students to help harvest water on the Moon and Mars.
The US space agency has announced the 2021 Moon to Mars Ice and Prospecting Challenge for university-level engineering students. Eligible students are expected to design and build hardware that would help astronauts harvest water on the Moon and the Red Planet.
In an official statement , NASA explained that water is important in space missions for hydration, to grow plants, and even making rocket propellants. But water is heavy and expensive to carry from Earth. Therefore, harvesting water will be the key to sustainable human exploration of celestial bodies.
NASA chief technologist Douglas Terrier said: “The water we will 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.”
So, students have been urged 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 testbed.”
They will have to strive to harvest as much water as possible from “simulated slices” of the lunar surface and the surface of Mars.
The students will also have to identify how the system functions in harvesting water on Earth will be different from harvesting it on a satellite or another planet, and will have to make modifications to their prototype accordingly.
The last date for submission of the proposed concept design and operations is November 24. NASA will be selecting a maximum of 10 teams in December, each of which will get a $10,000 (INR 7.5 lakh, approximately) development stipend to build their systems in six months. The systems developed by each team will then be demonstrated at a three-day competition that would be held at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, in June 2021.