The use of experimental robots to survey lunar craters and asteroid mining for resources could play a major role in the establishment of a permanent human outpost on the Moon. This is an essential step in NASA’s long term strategy to go from the Moon to Mars.
The US space agency approved two missions which seek to explore the potential of such technologies as Phase III studies tied to the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC). A high-ranking NASA employee stated that the technology might be used to facilitate the exploration of deep space without the need to rely on resources obtained from Earth.
Exploring lunar craters with the help of experimental robots
NIAC Phase III projects are essential for projects of these type, and they may pave the way towards impressive achievements. Phase III proposals involve the outline of an aerospace architecture, including an innovative mission concept which could alter the limits of all its possible in space. Each project will receive up to $2 million in funding. Researchers will improve and verify aspects of the project over two years. Below you can learn more about the projects.
Known as Skylight, the technology will be used to survey and model lunar models at an accelerated pace as the devices will be able to generate high-resolution images which can be used to create advanced 3D models. The data will also suggest if a crater can be explored by using land-based human or robotic means. NASA could learn a lot about the ice of the moon, which is essential for certain projects related to the Artemis initiative.
NASA’s robots might also be useful for asteroid mining
The demonstration mission aims to test the viability of a new resource harvesting method called optical mining. By using optical mining, robotic devices will reach a particular asteroid and gather volatile resources.
By combining the harvested material with innovative spacecraft system, it is likely that astronauts will be able to produce fuel in space. NASA is currently hard at work on the Artemis program which targets a return to the lunar surface by 2024.
Jasmine holds a Master’s in Journalism from Ryerson University in Toronto and writes professionally in a broad variety of genres. She has worked as a senior manager in public relations and communications for major telecommunication companies, and is the former Deputy Director for Media Relations with the Modern Coalition. Jasmine writes primarily in our LGBTTQQIAAP and Science section.