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Squeezing Rocket Fuel From Moon Rocks

Here’s how lunar explorers will mine the regolith to make rocket fuel

1 min read
Illustration of a design for a possible mining operation on the moon.
Illustration: John MacNeill

Illustration of a design for a possible mining operation on the moon.Illustration: John MacNeill

The most valuable natural resource on the moon may be water. In addition to sustaining lunar colonists, it could also be broken down into its constituent elements—hydrogen and oxygen—and used to make rocket propellant.

Although the ancients called the dark areas on the moon maria (Latin for “seas”), it has long been clear that liquid water can’t exist on the lunar surface, where it would swiftly evaporate. Since the 1960s, though, scientists have hypothesized that the moon indeed harbors water, in the form of ice. Because the moon has a very small axial tilt—just 1.5 degrees—the floors of many polar craters remain in perpetual darkness. Water could thus condense and survive in such polar “cold traps,” where it might one day be mined.

Illustration: John MacNeill

Water Water Everywhere: Finding rich deposits of ice and extracting it should be possible but will be technically challenging for lunar settlers.

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Video Friday: StickBot

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

2 min read
An image of a robot made of a small sticks tied together with a tangle of colorful wires, batteries, actuators, and electronics

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

IROS 2022: 23–27 October 2022, KYOTO, JAPAN
ANA Avatar XPRIZE Finals: 4–5 November 2022, LOS ANGELES
CoRL 2022: 14–18 December 2022, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

Enjoy today’s videos!

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Entangled Photons Can Come Out in Webs Now

Metasurfaces will help simplify quantum information technologies but also enable complex applications

3 min read
Purple toned close up of an object which has many squares on it, covered in green light.

Green laser light illuminates a metasurface that is a hundred times thinner than paper.

Craig Fritz

The equipment that generates quantum entanglement is often bulky and only produces entangled photons a pair at a time. Now scientists have created a device roughly one-third as thick as a penny that can yield complex webs of entangled photons—not just in pairs, but several pairs all linked together.

Now scientists have created a new device roughly one-third as thick as a penny can yield complex webs of entangled photons—not just one pair at a time, but several pairs all linked together. The invention may not only greatly simplify the setup needed for quantum technology, but also help support more complex quantum applications.

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Take the Lead on Satellite Design Using Digital Engineering

Learn how to accelerate your satellite design process and reduce risk and costs with model-based engineering methods

1 min read
Keysight
Keysight

Win the race to design and deploy satellite technologies and systems. Learn how new digital engineering techniques can accelerate development and reduce your risk and costs. Download this free whitepaper now!

Our white paper covers:

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