A new NASA prototype lunar prospector is set to begin testing in Hawaii next month.
Hawaii's unique volcanic terrains are some of the closest terrestrial analogues to the moon and Mars, a fact that hasn't gone unnoticed by NASA and other international teams, including those from the Google Lunar X PRIZE.
NASA has developed a prototype rover named Artemis Jr. for NASA’s Regolith and Environment Science and Oxygen and Lunar Volatile Extraction, or RESOLVE, project. The rover is designed to prospect for water, ice and other lunar resources, and will also demonstrate how future explorers can take advantage of resources at potential landing sites by manufacturing oxygen, water, and hydrogen from soil.
NASA will conduct equpiment and concept vehicle field tests in July outside of Hilo, Hawaii, in order to demonstrate how explorers might prospect for resources and make their own oxygen for survival while on other planetary bodies.
The State of Hawaii recently passed legislation to provide initial funding for the International Lunar Research Park (ILRP), which will set up an multinational program to facilitate robotic and other space-related research at several lunar analogue sites near Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii. This is underpinned by a cooperative Space Act Agreement between NASA and Hawaii signed in 2010.
For more information on RESOLVE, visit this NASA site.
Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston