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Mining the Moon: New Potential and New Challenges


Published on: September 13, 2021,

If you want to make a house in New York it would be logical to use New York’s resources then using Arizona’s resources and transporting it. Similarly mining on the moon is more logical for habitation and other purposes rather than using resources of the earth and transporting it. Aerospace and mining engineers from University of Arizona are mapping out harvesting moon’s resources using autonomous robot swarms and new excavation techniques. As distance between Earth and the moon is about 384400 km using resources of the moon is appealing idea.


A University of Arizona team led by researchers in the College of Engineering had received $500,00 NASA funding for a project that uses autonomous robots. “It’s really exciting to be a forefront of a new field,” said Moe Momayez interim head of the Department of Mining and Geological Engineering. “Here we are in 2021, and we are talking about colonizing the moon” he added.


According to Giant Impact Hypothesis, the Earth and the moon came from a common parent so the chemical composition are to be similar. Mining the moon can harvest metals needed for smartphones, titanium, precious metals such as gold and platinum and helium 3- which can fuel nuclear power but it is extremely on Earth. To mine in Earth miners need to drill through rock but lunar mining presents a new challenge. On the moon you have to be more conservative as there is no water for drilling purposes. The most efficient idea on earth is blasting but no one has ever set off a blast on the moon.


Robot Swarms, Powered by HEART


Jekan Thanga as associate professor has developed a neuromorphic learning architecture which he developed in his lab called Human Explainable Autonomous Robotic System or HEART. This system will train robots to work together on mining excavation and also allow robots to improve collaboration skills over time. The team plans to build and train robots here on earth so they can practice. “In a sense we are like farmers. We are breeding talent out of these creatures to do certain tasks” Thanga said. By going through this process we help perfect these artificial creatures whose job is to do the mining tasks.”


Students are More Enthusiastic


Not only Momayez and Thanga are alone in their enthusiasm undergraduate students are also interested in it. Thanga said, “Seeing all these students inspire to get involved has been a big drive.” Thanga’s ASTEROIDS Laboratory runs a NASA funded Undergraduate and Research and Education program in which students spend a year leading their own research projects. With the funding from NASA Momayez and Thanga intend to add a module to the program focused on space mining. “They can test their robots at the mine, they can exacavate, they can drill, they can blast,” Momayez said. “And with the new resources we hope to get more students from all around the world involved in mining.”



1 Comment

  1. gate io says:

    Reading your article helped me a lot, but I still had some doubts at the time, could I ask you for advice? Thanks.

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