skip to main content

Symposium 2

Exploration and Utilization of Extra-Terrestrial Bodies

Co-Chairs: Robert P. Mueller, NASA Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, FL; and Kris Zacny, Ph.D., Honeybee Robotics, Pasadena, CA

This topic will focus on methodologies, techniques, instruments, concepts, missions and system level designs associated with exploration and utilization of Solar System bodies, with emphasis on the Moon, Mars, Ocean Worlds, and Asteroids. The topic covers both robotic and human exploration. Many of the various types of civil, geological, mining, chemical and materials engineering fields are needed to sustain space exploration and space commercialization. The topic also covers legal and ethical aspects of space exploration and space mining.

Standard practices will have to be adapted, and new practices will have to be developed, to be able to rely on the natural resources of near-Earth asteroids, the Moon, and Mars to sustain human and robotic activities in space. Engineering systems and economics concepts, as well as mechanical, robotic, and structural engineering solutions are needed as well. While there is always room for robust and innovative new concepts, the testing, refining, and more testing of previously proposed concepts are especially sought.

List of Presentations

  • KICT Space Drill System for Subsurface Investigation of the Moon - Author: Hongcheol Lee, Senior Researcher, Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology
  • Sub-Buckling of Light Reflectors - Possibility of In-Situ Repair - Author: Jan Blachut, Ph.D., MSc, DSc, Professor, Fellow Inst Mech Engrs - London, CEng, University of Liverpool, Mechanical Engineering
  • Force Measurements to Excavate Lightly Compacted Granular Lunar Soil Simulant GRC-3B - Author: Margaret Proctor, MSME, Research Mechanical Engineer, NASA Glenn Research Center
  • NASA KSC Swamp Works: Methodology and Technology Development Summary - Author: Robert Mueller, M.ASCE, MSSE, Senior Aerospace Technologist, NASA Kennedy Space Center
  • Applying Terrestrial Geo-Material Science Experiments and Analysis for Space-Based in Situ Space Resource Utilization - Author: Hriday Patel, BE, MSCM Candidate, Graduate Assistant for Research, Texas A&M University
  • Deep Space Explorer: A New Spacecraft for Inner Solar System Missions Launched from Low-Earth Orbit - Author: Khaki Rodway, MS, Director of Business Development, Bradford Space
  • The Icebreaker Sample Acquisition System - Author: Brian Glass, Research Group Lead, NASA Ames Research Center
  • Lunar Underground Mining and Ventilation Requirements - Author: Akash Adhikari, Ph.D. Student, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
  • HYDRATION: Mining Water Ice on the Moon and Mars Using Downhole Radiative Heating - Author: George Lordos, MBA, SM, Ph.D. Candidate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Bootstrapping a Scalable Power Infrastructure for Lunar Mining - Author: Ross Centers, Graduate Student, Colorado School of Mines
  • RedWater: A RodWell System to Extract Water from Martian Ice Deposits - Author: Zach Mank, Engineering Manager, Honeybee Robotics
  • Investigation on Fluid Flow Characteristics in the Lunar Mining Environment - Author: Alex Verburg, Summer Intern, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
  • A New Method for State Estimation and Intelligent Control of Swarm of Small Satellites - Author: Randy Hoover, Ph.D., Associate Professor, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Computer Science and Engineering
  • Integrated Sensing and Earthmoving Vehicle for Landing Pad Construction - Author: Volker Nannen, Ph.D., Scientific Director,
  • Planetary Volatiles Extractor for Prospecting and In Situ Resource Utilization - Author: Kris Zacny, Ph.D., Vice President, Honeybee Robotics
  • Experimental Investigations of Water Extraction Process Within Permanently Shadowed Regions of the Moon - Author: T. Gordon Wasilewski, MSc, Ph.D. candidate, Space Research Centre PAS
  • NASA Lunabotics Robotic Mining Competition 10TH Anniversary (2010 – 2019): Taxonomy and Technology Review - Author: Robert Mueller, M.ASCE, MSSE, Senior Aerospace Technologist, NASA Kennedy Space Center
  • Water Extraction  From Rock Gypsum on Mars - Author: Paul Van Susante, Ph.D., M.ASCE, Assistant Professor, Michigan Technological University
  • Ultrasonically Assisted Blade Technologies for Lunar Excavation - Author: Erin Rezich, Aerospace Engineer, NASA Glenn Research Center
  • Non-Conventional Rock Breaking Techniques using High Concentrated Energy Sources for Space Mining Applications - Author: Bharat Jasthi, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Materials and Metallurgical Engineering, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
  • Surviving and Thriving in Space and on Earth's Oceans - Human Logistics and Sustainability Comparisons and Considerations - Author: Robert Mueller, M.ASCE, MSSE, Senior Aerospace Technologist, NASA Kennedy Space Center
  • Massless Exploration – Humans as a Solar System Species -Author: Vikram Shyam,  Research Aerospace Engineer, NASA
  • Combining Oxygen, Food, Manufacturing Material, and Energy Production that "Grows" Bigger - Author: Daniel Tompkins, Doctor of Plant Medicine, Owner, DIY Service LLC
  • Ocean Energy for Ocean Worlds - Author: Robert Cavagnaro, Ph.D., Earth Scientist, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • Development of a Lander Autonomy Testbed for Ocean Worlds Missions - Author: Hari Nayar, ScD, Group Supervisor, NASA JPL/California Institute of Technology
  • Elastic Wave Analyzer for Icy Sub-Surfaces (EWAIS) in the Solar System - Author: Yoseph Bar-Cohen, Ph.D., Scientist, JPL
  • Acoustic Communication in Ice Crust for Ocean Accessing Probes -  Author: Xiaoqi Bao, Ph.D., Senior Technical staff, JPL
  • CITADEL: An Icy World Simulation Environment for Sampling Development - Author: Grayson Adams, Mechatronics Engineer, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • An Autonomy Software Testbed Simulation for Ocean Worlds Missions - Author: Laurence Edwards, Ph,D., Computer Scientist, NASA Ames Research Center
  • Granular Flow Characterization During Sampling Operation for Enceladus Surface Acquisition - Author: Dario Riccobono, MS, Ph.D. candidate, Politecnico di Torino; NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Ice Prospecting on the Moon at Mining Scales - Author: Kevin Cannon, Ph.D., Postdoc, University of Central Florida
  • The LUVMI Volatile Sampler and Volatiles Analyser for In-Situ ISRU Prospecting - Author: Simon Sheridan, Ph.D., Research Fellow, Open University
  • Resource Mapping in Extreme Environments - Author: Sang Choi, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, NASA Langley Research Center
  • LUVMI-X: A Versatile Platform for Resource Prospecting on the Moon - Author: Janos Biswas, M.Sc., Researcher, Technical University of Munich
  • High-Speed Dynamic Response for Lunar Rovers - Author: Kyle Johnson, Research Engineer, NASA Glenn Research Center
  • Exobiology Extant Life Surveyor (EELS) - Author: Kalind Carpenter, MS, Robotics Engineer, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology
  • Lunar Rover Optimization Platform for Wheel Traction Studies - Author: Stephen Gerdts, MA, Mechanical Research Engineer, NASA Glenn Research Center
  • Interlocking Spikes for Extreme Mobility - Author: Volker Nannen, Ph.D., Scientific Director,
  • Development and Testing of Prototype Sabatier Reactor for Martian In-Situ Propellant Production - Author: Yash Adnani, Project Manager, UBC Mars Colony
  • Small Scale Gimbaled Rocket for Control Development - Author: Gabriel Thompson, Student, University of Washington
  • From Concept to Reality: Research Opportunities on Blue Origin Space Platforms - Author: Erika Wagner, Payload Sales Director, Customer Experience, Blue Origin
Session Organizers: Colin Creager and Kyle Johnson, NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH

When exploring extra-terrestrial bodies, such as the Moon and Mars, the terrain can often be very difficult to traverse. Examples of such terrain challenges are very soft soil, sharp rocks, and steep slopes. Adding to these challenges is the fact that the terrain is often unknown before a mission, making it more difficult to plan accordingly. The desire to explore regions such as these means that unconventional methods of mobility may be necessary. This topic is focused on novel methods, tools, or technologies that serve to improve the traversability of an exploration vehicle in extreme terrain. This includes, but is not limited to, the development or use of robotic systems, components, sensors, software, or techniques. Emphasis should be on mobility improvements in the areas of efficiency, capability, or safety.

Nature and Bio-inspired Concepts for Human Space Exploration

Session Organizers: Andrew Trunek, NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH; and Vikram Shyam, Ph.D., NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH

NASA has been commissioned to establish a long-term presence on the Moon and ultimately Mars. The Moon and Mars are extreme environments; Earth can also present equally extreme environments at the depths of the ocean or in glacial caves. Extraterrestrial construction of structures to support human exploration will require new approaches due to numerous constraints. Just to name a few that will force a new approach are: limited launch mass, launch frequency, limited energy, temperature extremes, minimal atmosphere, lack of liquid water, abrasive dust, cosmic radiation and availability of other resources. Over billions of years, nature has supported the origin, evolution and continuous presence of life and its structures on Earth. Nature is similarly constrained to only the resources immediately available while minimizing the use of energy. However, nature forms magnificent structures that vary greatly in size and complexity from the Great Barrier Reef to the microscopic cyanobacteria. This session will focus on design concepts, methods and techniques of construction for human space exploration that are inspired by or that mimic nature. A few examples might be: self-assembly of materials, multifunctional materials and structures, closed-loop habitat systems, 3D printed materials, structures that are organic, passive or active and autonomous bots.

Ocean Worlds

Session Organizers: Yosi Bar-Cohen and Steve Vance, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA

Ocean Worlds are celestial bodies with substantial liquid water. This includes Earth, and potential water-rich exoplanets and moons. In the outer Solar System there are five known ocean worlds, icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn with volumes of ice-covered liquid exceeding Earth's. Similar oceans are suspected in many more places in the outer solar system. Increasingly, space exploration agencies, including NASA and ESA, are seeking to explore these bodies to assess their habitability and to look for extraterrestrial life. This special session is a forum for reporting research and technology development related to the exploration of ocean worlds.

“Mining on the Moon and Mars” - Space Mining

Session Organizers: Purushotham Tukkaraja, Ph.D., South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Rapid City, SD; and Rob Mueller, NASA Kennedy Space Center, FL

NASA envisions that In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) is key to future successful sustainable space exploration, including the Moon and Mars. Successful ISRU could also extend sustained human presence to the planets and moons to enable eventual settlement. However, most of the terrestrial mining and mineral processing methods are not going to be applicable for extra-terrestrial mining, with low gravity, thermal management and vacuum being the major operational issues. This special topic deals with innovative concepts, methods, designs, research, development, and applications related to all aspects of space mining and mineral processing on the Moon and Mars. Papers are solicited on topics including, but not limited to, the following: Resource Assessment, drilling, blasting (rock fragmentation), excavation, loading, haulage, and mineral processing techniques, use of robotics, in-situ/local resource utilization, tele-operation of mining equipment, automation and remote mining.

Resource Prospecting

Session Organizer: Tony Colaprete, Ph.D., NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

The economic evaluation of natural resources depends on the accuracy of resource distribution estimates. A frequently discussed lunar resource is water ice, however, we currently do not have a sufficient understanding of the distribution of water or its forms at the scales it would be extracted and processed. New observations and analysis approaches are needed to evaluate the distribution of water.

In-Situ Resources: What Does the Moon Have to Offer Us?

Session Organizers: Melissa Sampson, Ph.D., Ball Aerospace, Boulder, CO; and Jeff Hopkins, Astrobotic Technology, Inc., Pittsburgh, PA

In order to properly build on the Moon, we need to understand what local resources we have available to us, how to find them, and where they are located. What does lunar prospecting look like and how do we use what we find to build things in the harsh lunar environment? This session presents papers on various aspects of ISRU available on planetary surfaces and beyond.

Planetary Environment Impact on Assembly Integration and Test (AIT) Requirements for Space Systems

Session Organizers: Alexander M. Jablonski, Ph.D., Canadian Space Agency, Ottawa, Canada; and Kin F. Man, Ph.D., NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA

Currently, many space agencies and international scientific teams are involved in planning planetary missions to terrestrial bodies such as the Moon, Mars, Venus, Mercury, and to natural moons of outer planets such as Europa, or even to near-Earth asteroids. Space systems for these missions have to operate in different or more extreme environments. Assembly Integration and Test (AIT) requirements need to be developed for more stringent qualification testing. Qualification tests could be at the assembly/subsystem level or at the full spacecraft or rover/flight system level. This session focuses on the impact of planetary environments on AIT requirements for space systems to survive the operational phase of the mission and design or mitigation techniques to improve their survival. The list of environmental conditions having impact on the planetary system operation might include: temperature, vacuum, radiation, specific planetary atmospheres, dust and soil conditions, other geophysical effects (e.g., seismic and other activities), length of the day and night; and effect of the location or of the area of operation of a specific stationary or non-stationary planetary system. This session will cover space systems for exploration of all planetary bodies, with the exception of lunar systems, which will be covered in a separate session.

jump to top