NASA grant to tap lunar resources

July 28, 2004

Computer models may lead to propellant production from lunar mantle

Florida Tech associate professor of chemical engineering, Dr. Jonathan Whitlow, received a grant of nearly $50,000 from NASA to develop computer models that can lead to producing propellants from the lunar regolith, or rock mantle. He will collaborate with NASA Kennedy Space Center, NASA Johnson Space Center, and the Colorado School of Mines.

"Developing these lunar elements into propellants in-situ can improve the economics of exploring the moon and other planetary bodies," said Whitlow.

Oxygen is abundant on the moon in the form of metal oxides in the lunar soil. In addition, small amounts of other resources exist, such as hydrogen, nitrogen and carbon, which have been deposited by the solar wind.

"The in-situ processing of the lunar soil to produce propellants is a challenge of chemical engineering," said Whitlow. He will be developing predictive models for various processing steps involved in the resource recovery on the moon. Florida Tech offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering.

Source: Florida Institute of Technology

Explore further: Lunar IceCube to take on big mission from small package

Related Stories

A brief history of nukes in space

June 26, 2015

In just a few short weeks, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft will make its historic flyby of Pluto and its moons. Solar panels are unable to operate in the dim nether regions of the outer solar system, and instead, New Horizons ...

LightSail's solar sails look good in latest deployment

June 9, 2015

The Planetary Society solar sail exploration called LightSail is looking good. The concept—a spacecraft designed to propel through space on beams of sunlight— pushed through by nothing but the pressure of sunlight—is ...

Helicopter drones on Mars

March 18, 2015

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory recently announced that it is developing a small drone helicopter to scout the way for future Mars rovers. Why would Mars rovers need such a robotic guide? The answer is that driving on Mars ...

Recommended for you

Magnetic fields provide a new way to communicate wirelessly

September 1, 2015

Electrical engineers at the University of California, San Diego demonstrated a new wireless communication technique that works by sending magnetic signals through the human body. The new technology could offer a lower power ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.