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Center Innovation Fund: KSC CIF

Icy Regolith Excavation and Volatile Capture under Vacuum Conditions (ICEX)

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

This project will provide NASA with a testbed for demonstrating mining technologies involving the excavation of icy planetary regolith and the extraction of sublimated solid volatiles from icy regolith collected under environmental conditions similar to those found on asteroids, Mars, and the Moon.

NASA Kennedy Space Center is developing a testbed for producing large volume mixtures of ice and regolith under low pressure inside a laboratory vacuum chamber. This will allow those technologies that are being developed to excavate and utilize icy planetary regolith, to be tested and evaluated during actual operation under simulated surface conditions such as those found on asteroids, Mars, and the Moon.

The results of testing under relevant environmental conditions will be used to validate existing or future physical models that predict excavation forces related to mining planetary regolith, and to determine the amount of energy required to excavate the regolith and to sublimate solid volatiles contained in icy regolith.

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Anticipated Benefits

Primary U.S. Work Locations and Key Partners

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Project Duration

Technology Maturity (TRL)

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