Nasa funds projects for lunar construction and infrastructure

Staff Report, March 7, 2022

Research for autonomous robotic construction on moon, natural resource extraction and extremely cold electronics to each receive $2m for two years

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa), the US space agency, has announced funding for three projects that develop technologies to enable construction of living and working infrastructure on the moon and creating electronics that can work in the moon’s cold climate.

The projects are by three American universities, with each being awarded $2m. The universities are Auburn University, the Missouri University of Science and Technology and the Colorado School of Mines. The funding for each project is spread over two years. The three teams will develop technologies for living and working on the moon using lunar resources for construction and creating electronics that can work in the frigid lunar environment.

Led by the Colorado School of Mines, the first project is Autonomous Construction, which will explore autonomous robot construction methods on the Moon’s surface. The Missouri University of Science and Technology’s project concerns extracting resources and will use magnetic and electrostatic technologies to more efficiently separate calcium- and aluminium-containing minerals from the moon’s soil. The third project, by Auburn University, deals with extremely cold electronics and will analyse recent lunar missions to create new electronics that cope with low temperatures.

The projects are part of Nasa’s Artemis programme, which is aiming to send astronauts to the Moon’s lunar south pole in what would be the first landing there since 1972.

Dr Prasun Desai, deputy associate administrator of Nasa’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, said: “Creating the technologies we need to explore the Moon requires leveraging expertise from and partnering with academia and industry alike. These projects show the integral role that universities will play in building humanity’s sustainable presence on the Moon.”