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Presence of ice on the Moon’s surface: Good news for the SEEDS Project

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Few days ago, american scientists confirmed the presence of ice on the Moon’s surface. Very good news for the SEEDS students who have been working for 5 months on the LUPO (LUnar Propellant Outpost) project, with the goal of designing all the lunar facilities needed to produce propellant from the ice at the Earth’s natural satellite’s South Pole.

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The SEEDS project is an academic partnership, taking the form of a 6-month full-time project, between ISAE-SUPAERO (France), Politecnico di Torino (Italy) and the University of Leicester (England), in close collaboration with the European Space Agency (Netherlands) and Thales Alenia Space (Italy).

39 students coming from the 3 universities had were tasked with the development of a lunar base capable of processing the ice, until recently only hypothesised, located at the South Pole of the Moon in order to produce propellant. This propellant will then be sent in orbit to support the future space exploration missions of the solar system, whether manned or unmanned.

First housed in Altec’s facilities in Turin for 2 months, they then stayed at ISAE-SUPAERO. They worked in more detail on the resource extraction and propellant transport systems on the surface of the Moon, as well as on the design of the transfer vehicle and the space port. Two important events punctuated the phase of the project: an intensive one-week design course in the Concurrent Design Facility (CDF) of the European Space Agency and the presentation of the project during the conference "Towards the Use of Lunar Resources" in front of industrials and scientists specialized in the subject in the Netherlands. Now in Leicester until the end of September, they are focusing on the development of the production plant and the development of waste management and food production solutions. Other tasks include the active preparation of the final project presentations, which will take place during the International Astronautical Congress, early October in Bremen (Germany) and late October at the European Space Technology Centre (ESTEC, Netherlands) of the European Space Agency (ESA).

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With only a few weeks to go before the end of the project, this confirmation is excellent news for the students, since it validates the hypotheses and demonstrates the feasibility of such a study. "One of the main uncertainties of the project so far has been the lack of information regarding the presence and concentrations of ice at the Moon Poles. Now that the doubts have been removed, we are confident in our design. We hope that this information will arouse interest from the scientific community for our project! "says a student of the TAS Astro Master.

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Learn more about the news:
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/08/14/1802345115

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