The Apollo 17 expedition carried the last group of astronauts to visit the moon in 1972. The USA has plans to send humans back to the moon in 2025 or 2026 using the Artemis 3 rocket and SpaceX’s Starship vehicle (see https://www.space.com/artemis-1-going-back-to-the-moon#section-back-to-the-moon).
One of the reasons for the Artemis mission is to investigate the potential to use the moon as a staging post for further solar expedition. Water, in the form of ice, has been discovered in the polar regions of the moon. This water can be broken down via a process of electrolysis to form Oxygen, necessary to sustain life, and hydrogen, a potential rocket fuel. This would most like be accomplished via a means of In-situ Resources Utlisation (ISRU). This means that material (ice) is processed in-situ and not extracted, transported and processed in a mill as most mines operate on earth.
It may also be necessary to harness other resources on the moon to sustain future lunar bases. Lunar regolith is the layer of loose dust several meters thick that covers the surface of the moon. It consists primarily of binary compounds of oxygen (See Table 1).
Using an energy intensive Fray, Farthing and Chen (FFC) electrolysis process, it may be possible to separate the principal chemical elements from lunar regolith. These elements, plus their potential uses, are listed in Table 2.
Processed regolith also shows substantial promise as a building material, with substantial research by the University of Adelaide into sintering and smelting regolith to produce low cost lunar bricks (see “Lunar construction” paper).
In order to process regolith material on the lunar surface, it must first be mined. Your task is to develop a CONCEPT STUDY as to how you might MINE LUNAR REGOLITH so as to feed a processing plant to either manufacture lunar bricks or extract metals. The scope involved the development of a preferred configuration for your concept design, as well as the enunciation of a plan for deploying your design on the surface of the moon.
Your task does NOT include:
This project involves a concept study
It is very expensive to transport materials to the moon. The price of launching material into space is approximately US$400,000 per kg.
It is suggested that each team adopt a Systems Engineering design approach to developing their concept designs. The “V” systems model is commonly employed to help guide this development (see Cloutier et al, 2015).
This begins by:
One your team has settled on s detailed list of systems requirements, it is time to move onto what is know as the “solutions space”.
This begin by breaking the system down into a series of sub-systems, each of which are necessary for the performance of the whole system. For example, the Lunar Miner will require a:
Several design options exist for each of these subsystems. Your team needs to carefully consider how well each option meets the systems requirements. This is best down by constructing a series of comparison tables, where you can discuss the relative advantages and disadvantages of each design alternative.
Your “preferred configuration” is defined as the set of preferred design solutions. Then, and only then, it is time to develop a drawing of your preferred configuration. You may use a simple design software packages such as “Innovate” or “AutoCAD” to draw your solutions. Alternatively you can provide a photograph of a simply sketch showing what the solution might look like, or even build a prototype using Lego™, for example!
This is the point that satisfies one of the deliverables of the challenge. In addition to your completed concept design, your team should prepare a Risk and Opportunity management plan related to the feasibility of translating your concept design to a successful Lunar miner. What are the things that your team is still a little unclear about, or that require some ongoing testing? These represent potential design risks to your concept design. What are the potential advantages of your design? Are there additional tasks that your Lunar Miner design can perform with relatively little further investment? These are opportunities associated with your concept design.
The other elements of the V systems design model deal with the progression of the concept design through to component design (including specification of materials) then to manufacture, sub-system assembly and verification of design tolerances, surface roughness etc.
The subsystems will then be integrated and a series of functional tests performed to verify that the systems requirements are satisfied. Finally, the completed system will be commissioned and tested against the user requirements. The Lunar Miner will be tested on earth, first, before it is transported into space! This process is called “system validation”.
Each team should prepare a presentation in which they outline the merits of their concept study. The presentation can include PowerPoint slides and/or video animations.
Teams can be composed of between 4 and 6 students.
If you register as an individual student, you will be allocated to a virtual team
Teams should elect one person to present their concept designs. That person cannot answer questions. All questions must be deferred to other members of the team to answer.
The presentations will be judged in accordance to the marking rubric illustrated in Table 3 (see Annex A). Five eminent professionals will mark the presentations. The winning team will be decided via the average mark given by these five professionals.
|Systems requirements, Solution space and preferred configuration (2 marks)
|Fails to communicate the system requirements and preferred solution and the reasoning behind it. Extra heavy design. Slides have many errors.
|Systems requirements and preferred solution unclear, not logical, nor well planned. Heavy design. Slides have many errors.
|Systems requirements and preferred solution clear, coherent, logical, and well planned. Slides cover the main points. Design is of medium weight. Slides have a few errors.
|Systems requirements and preferred solution clear, coherent, logical, and well planned. Slides cover the main points. Lightweight design. Slides have only one or two minor errors.
|Systems requirements and preferred solution clear, coherent, logical, and well planned. Lightweight design. Slides cover the main points. Slides have no errors.
|Deployment plan (2 marks)
|Fails to communicate the deployment plan. Slides have many errors.
|Deployment plan unclear, not logical nor well planned. Slides have many errors.
|Deployment plan clear, coherent, logical, and well planned. Slides cover the main points, but have a few errors.
|Deployment plan clear, coherent, logical, and well planned. Slides cover the main points, with only one or two minor errors.
|Deployment plan clear, coherent, logical, and feasible. Slides cover the main points. Slides have no errors.
|System risk/opportunity analysis (2 marks)
|Fails to communicate the major risks/opportunities. Slides have many errors.
|Risks/opportunities are unclear, not logical. Slides have many errors.
|Risks/opportunities are clear, coherent, and logical. Slides cover the main points. Slides have a few errors.
|Risks/opportunities are accurate, clear, coherent, and logical. Slides cover the main points. Slides have only one or two minor errors.
|Risks/opportunities are accurate, clear, coherent, and logical. Slides cover the main points. Slides have no errors.
|Presentation Quality (2 marks)
|The message behind each slide is incoherent. The narrative of the presentation is a very unclear. Lots of additional information is needed in order to understand the concept design.
|The message behind each slide is not clear. The narrative of the presentation is unclear. Some additional information is needed in order to understand the concept design.
|The message behind each slide is more or less clear. The narrative of the presentation is a little bit unclear. Some additional information is needed in order to understand the concept design.
|The message behind each slide is clear. The narrative of the presentation is a little unclear. A bit of additional information is needed in order to understand the concept design.
|The message behind each slide is clear. There is a clear narrative to the presentation. No additional information is needed in order to understand the concept design.
|Questions (2 marks)
|Poor answers to questions, failure to address question or wrong answers provided.
|Satisfactory answers to questions. A basic level of explanation displayed.
|Provides good answers to questions, with a competent level of reflection and explanation
|Very good answers to questions. One or two answers could have been expanded upon.
|Excellent explanation to questions. Team have gone the ‘extra mile” in explaining things. Team is coherent and clearly across the brief.
Cloutier, R., Baldwin, C., and Bone, M.A., “Systems Engineering Simplified”, CRC Press, Boca Raton, 2015
Lunar Construction – Novel Materials Production. 2022. url: https://set.adelaide.edu.au/atcsr/lunar-construction-novel-materials-production.
NASA Systems Engineering Handbook
Papike, J.J., Simon S.B.,, and Laul J.C.. “The lunar regolith: Chemistry, mineralogy, and petrology”. In: Reviews of Geophysics 20.4 (1982), pp. 761–826. doi: https://doi.org/10.1029/RG020i004p00761. eprint: https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1029/RG020i004p00761.
Shaw, M. et al. “Mineral Processing and Metal Extraction on the Lunar Surface - Challenges and Opportunities”. In: Mineral Processing and Extractive Metallurgy Review 43.7 (2022), pp. 865–891. doi: 10 . 1080 / 08827508 . 2021 . 1969390. eprint: https://doi.org/10.1080/08827508.2021.1969390.
Simon, S.B., Papike J.J., and Laul, J.C. “The lunar regolith: comparative studies of the Apollo and Luna sites. Petrology of soils from Apollo 17, Luna 16, 20, and 24.” In: Lunar and Planetary Science Conference Proceedings 12 (Jan. 1982), pp. 371–388.
The team is asked to prepare a presentation of no more than 6 minute duration. This can be done on ppt or any other equivalent platform. It can include video if the team wishes. There is no word limit.
The presentation will take place on the same day as the Hackathon, currently set for Sunday 25 June 2023.
Participation is virtual. Some local teams may wish to get together to solve the challenge. Teams are not required to travel to Brisbane.
Teams must be registered by Friday 9 June 2023, 11.59 AEST.
Any team that registers will be eligible to present and is included in the challenge.
Professor Peter Knights
Discipline Leader - Mining
School of Mechanical & Mining Engineering
The University of Queensland | St Lucia QLD 4072 | Australia
T +61 7 3365 3915 M +61 400 814 170
E firstname.lastname@example.org W www.mechmining.uq.edu.au