Analog Missions:

RATS

Research and Technology Studies

Research and Technology studies team member inside MMSEV during mission simulation. A field test led by NASA to assess surface operation concepts, including rovers, spacewalk timelines, and ground support.

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NASA ISRU

In-Situ Resource Utilization

In-Situ Resource Utilization rover testing. NASA and partner organizations demonstrate incorporating on-site resources and evaluate technologies that could be used to look for water-ice in extraterrestrial environments.

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NEEMO

NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations

NEEMO aquanaut. NEEMO researchers live in the undersea Aquarius laboratory for up to 3 weeks, and experience some of the same tasks and challenges they would in space.

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NASA AMO

Autonomous Mission Operations

NASA Autonomous Mission Operations crew member. Defining the vehicle capabilities, roles and responsibilities of ground and crew, and their interactions, to enable missions to destinations beyond Earth orbit.

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About In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU)

    Developing Technologies For Living Off the Land..
    In Space


    The Canadian Space Agency (CSA)'s Artemis Jr. rover and the Regolith and Environment Science and Oxygen and Lunar Volatiles Extraction (RESOLVE) system being prepared for the simulated mission. Photo credit: NASA/Joe Bibby

    The Canadian Space Agency (CSA)'s Artemis Jr. rover holds the Regolith and Environment Science and Oxygen and Lunar Volatiles Extraction (RESOLVE) instruments. This system will be used to drill for water ice and other resources during a simulated mission. Photo credit: NASA/Joe Bibby
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    Each spacecraft, crewed or robotic, encounters an extraordinary spectrum of vast resources throughout its journey. From the first space missions onward, space architects and scientists have considered incorporating these space resources into their designs to improve efficiency and guarantee the survival of hardware and people in space. This practice of harnessing resources at the exploration site is called in-situ-resource utilization (ISRU).

    As we embark on deep-space missions with weeks- or months-long travel times, ISRU becomes increasingly important because resupply missions are expensive and exclusively relying on them may put crews at risk.

    Long-duration habitation, surface systems and human life support systems will evolve through NASA’s capability-driven approach to exploration, but even the most sophisticated designs must include ISRU components when possible. Mission capabilities and return on investment multiply when human consumables and spacecraft propellant can be harvested from extraterrestrial environments.

    The 2012 In-Situ Resource Utilization Analog Mission


    The 2012 ISRU analog mission is a collaboration between NASA and its partners, primarily the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) with help from the University of Hawaii and the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES). Demonstrations will be conducted on the side of Mauna Kea, in some of Hawaii’s volcanic ash deposits, which provide geologic terrain and composition similar to what scientists expect to find on the moon, an asteroid, or Mars.

    Exploration Operations
    During the 2012 ISRU demonstrations, investigators will simulate a robotic lunar polar mission to search for and characterize water-ice and volatiles. The principle hardware system, the Regolith and Environment Science and Oxygen and Lunar Volatile Extraction (RESOLVE), will be mounted on CSA’s Artemis Jr. rover. RESOLVE includes a drill, a chemical plant (with an oxygen and volatiles extraction node, gas chromatograph, and mass spectrometer), a neutron spectrometer, and a near infrared spectrometer. The simulation will also include a mockup of a lunar lander, complete with a camera, communication, and navigation package.

    Science Operations
    NASA will conduct science operations with ground penetrating radar, magnetic susceptibility, and combined Mössbauer /X-Ray Fluorescence instruments mounted on CSA’s Juno Rover as well as two stationary instruments, the Volatile Analysis by Pyrolysis of Regolith (VAPoR) and the Mechanized Sample Processing and Handling System (MeSH). Samples taken from the field will be ground into powder using the MeSH instrument and the powder will be added to the VAPoR instrument to vaporize the powder and the constituents are measured using a mass spectrometer. Throughout the science operations, investigators will develop remote operations strategies to optimize science and prospecting mission goals.

    › Download the ISRU Fact Sheet (705 KB PDF)
    › Learn more about NASA's analog missions
    › View the VAPoR blog

    2012 ISRU Partners
    › Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES)
    › Canadian Space Agency, including the following Canadian support organizations:

ISRU Fact Sheet

Featured ISRU Hardware

Past ISRU Analog Missions