University of Utah takes top honors in BIG Idea Lunar Forge Challenge 

By Artemis, NASA plans to conduct long-duration human and robotic missions on the lunar floor in preparation for future crewed exploration of Mars. Increasing exploration capabilities requires a sturdy lunar infrastructure, together with sensible and cost-effective methods to assemble a lunar base. One technique is using in-situ useful resource utilization (ISRU) – or the power to make use of naturally occurring sources – to provide consumables and construct constructions sooner or later, which can make explorers extra Earth-independent.  

An ISRU course of that NASA needs to study extra about is forging metals from lunar minerals to create constructions and instruments sooner or later. By its 2023 Breakthrough, Progressive and Sport-Altering (BIG) Thought Lunar Forge Problem, NASA sought progressive ideas from college college students to design an ISRU steel manufacturing pipeline on the Moon. The year-and-a-half-long problem, funded by NASA’s House Expertise Mission Directorate (STMD) and Workplace of STEM Engagement, helps NASA’s Lunar Floor Innovation Initiative in growing new approaches and novel applied sciences to pave the best way for profitable exploration on the floor of the Moon.

Finalist groups offered their analysis, designs, prototypes, and testing outcomes to a panel of NASA and trade judges at a culminating discussion board on Nov. 16, in Cleveland, Ohio.

The College of Utah crew, partnering with Powder Metallurgy Analysis Laboratory, earned the Artemis Award, which represents high honors within the 2023 BIG Thought Problem. Their lunar forge undertaking, Manufacturing of Metal from Lunar Regolith by Carbonyl Iron Refining (CIR), represents a promising avenue to extract iron from decreased lunar regolith and refine it right into a excessive purity powder product in a two-stage course of. The Artemis Award is given to the crew whose idea has the very best potential to contribute to and be built-in into an Artemis mission. 

Collin Andersen, Team Lead

Collin Andersen, Staff Lead

College of Utah and Powder Metallurgy Analysis Laboratory

Groups might choose to deal with applied sciences wanted alongside any level within the lunar steel manufacturing pipeline, together with, however not restricted to: 

  • Metallic refining
  • Forming supplies for additive manufacturing
  • Testing and qualifying 3D printed infrastructure to be used on the Moon

In January, groups submitted proposal packages, from which seven finalists have been chosen in March 2023 for funding of as much as $180,000, totaling almost $1.1 million throughout all groups. The finalists then labored for 9 months designing, growing, and demonstrating their ideas. The 2023 BIG Thought program concluded at its annual discussion board, the place groups offered their outcomes and answered questions from judges, adopted by an interactive poster session. Specialists from NASA and different aerospace corporations evaluated the coed ideas based mostly on technical innovation, credibility, administration, and groups’ verification testing. Along with the presentation, the groups supplied a technical paper and technical poster detailing their proposed steel manufacturing pipeline.

Niki werkheiser

Niki werkheiser

Director of know-how maturation inside STMD

Along with the highest spot, a number of groups have been acknowledged in different classes, together with: 

Edison Award: Missouri College of Science & Expertise

Path-to-Flight Award: College of North Texas with Superior Supplies & Manufacturing Processes Institute at UNT; Enabled Engineering

Programs Engineering: Northwestern College with Wearifi Inc.; Rexnord Aerospace; QuesTek Improvements LLC; and ANSYS, Inc.

Finest Verification Demonstration: Colorado Faculty of Mines

BIG Image Award: Massachusetts Institute of Expertise with Honeybee Robotics 

Innovation Award: Pennsylvania State College with RFHIC & Jacobs House Exploration Group

The 2023 BIG Thought Problem is sponsored by NASA by a collaboration between STMD’s Sport Altering Improvement program and the Workplace of STEM Engagement’s House Grant undertaking. The Problem is managed by a partnership between the Nationwide Institute of Aerospace and the Johns Hopkins Utilized Physics Laboratory (APL). 

NASA sponsors the 2023 BIG Thought Problem by its Sport Altering Improvement program and the Workplace of STEM Engagement’s House Grant undertaking. The Nationwide Institute of Aerospace and the Johns Hopkins Utilized Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland managed the problem for NASA. 

Staff displays, technical papers, and digital posters can be found on the BIG Thought web site.   

For full competitors particulars, go to:



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