I'm interested in planetary materials, including their early evolution in the solar system, re-creating their exotic properties in the lab, and extracting them sustainably as space resources.
Dec 11, 2:28pm: Ancient Hydrated Silicates in the Martian Deep: Crustal Density, Water Budget, and Astrobiology. 2018 AGU Fall Meeting, Walter E. Washington Convention Center 206.
1. Carbonaceous muds (Recent abstract).
2. Martian clay formation and noble gas sequestration in the pre-Noachian (Recent publication).
3. High fidelity regolith simulants (Recent publication).
I’m going to devote more time to writing about space resources. As a start, here’s a smorgasbord of sorts with what’s been happening lately in the field:
Phil Metzger and Julie Brisset at FSI began work on a ULA-funded grant to model lunar water extraction from regolith. The work is being done in coordination with Colorado School of Mines, and it’s interesting as ULA hasn’t previously made much noise in the space resources industry. But if it’s going to be a big thing, then nobody will want to be left out.
I’ve heard that Planetary Resources has laid off multiple people due to lack of funding, including the only bona fide planetary scientist they had on staff (and not as an advisor). This is worrisome because the whole point of this venture was that investors were in it for the long haul, and didn’t care about short-term ROI. Their website currently claims that the team is “growing”.
NASA released a Broad Agency Announcement focused on maturing ISRU technology to TRL 4-6, depending on the proposal “track”. They’re looking to fund a handful of trade studies and tech demos for components and subsystems that will work on the Moon and/or Mars. It’s hard to find much mention of asteroids in the call, reflecting the new direction within the agency.
The University of Luxembourg is hosting ASIME-2018, a follow up to the 2016 conference of the same name. The workshop will focus on the scientific side of asteroid mining: specifically, the nature and abundance of water on these bodies. I’ll hopefully be attending in person.
Finally, SpaceX wowed everyone with the impressive test demo of Falcon Heavy, a long time in the making. Hopefully this continues to drive down the cost of access to space and brings us closer to a fledgling space resources industry. I was able to catch the launch in person and it was quite something.