Taiwan is building NASAs Resource Prospector lander to mine the moon

first_imgNASA has been planning the first ever mining mission on the moon for several years, and now construction of the lander and rover that will carry it out is under way. NASA is working with Chung-shan Institute of Science and Technology in Taiwan to build the lunar lander for a planned launch in the early 2020s. The goal is to prove that important materials can be mined on the moon, thus extending humanity’s reach into deep space.The mission is called Resource Prospector, and most of the action will take place in a small rover designed to scan the lunar surface for evidence of useful materials. We know from orbital missions like the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter that there are tons of water ice and pockets of gases on the moon. Resource Prospector will try to mine it in the first ever in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) proof of concept.With our current level of technology, space missions need to take all the resources needed for the journey on the initial launch from Earth. That means more fuel, more money, and less room for error. The oxygen, hydrogen, and frozen water deposits on the lunar surface could be used to generate fuel, breathable air, and safe drinking water. Making a pit-stop at the moon on your way to Mars makes the trip much cheaper and safer.When the Resource Prospector rover reaches the moon, it will use sensors to search for water, hydrogen, and other gases. When it finds a promising location, it will drill down as deep as a meter to retrieve a sample, which will be heated in an oven to determine its composition. If it can extract sufficient vital materials from the lunar surface, then we’re well on our way to making consumable resources in space. The Chung-shan Institute is scheduled to deliver the lander and rover to NASA by the end of 2018, which is seen as an aggressive timetable.last_img read more