Valuable resources that enable space exploration, such as water, may be available on the moon, planets and asteroids - but astronauts may need to mine the surface to find them. NASA's Glenn Research Center is partnering with the Northern Centre for Advanced Technology (NORCAT) to conduct tests that simulate mining planetary surface materials.
Testing recently took place at Glenn's Simulated Lunar Operations (SLOPE) facility. The SLOPE lab includes a 20-foot by 60-foot "sandbox" that is filled with a material that approximates extraterrestrial planetary soil. During the testing, NORCAT supplied excavation tools and mining vehicles which were used to test and measure the force and power needed for planetary surface mining.
Pictured, from left to right, are Marcel Viel (NORCAT), Mark Plant (student at The Ohio State University) and Colin Creager (NASA). Viel and Plant are consulting about the next test run while Creager tests soil readiness using a tool called a cone penetrometer, which measures the density of the packed soil bed.
Image Credit: NASA
Marvin G. Smith (Wyle Information Systems LLC)
Page Last Updated: August 2nd, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator