NASA says its presence on the moon won't just be for show.
With new technology، the agency hopes to mine natural resources on the lunar surface as well as reachable asteroids.
Through NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program، the agency said it will begin to explore the feasibility of robotic rovers and mining technology that could make space mining a reality.
To do so، it has green-lit two mission concepts this month. 'We are pursuing new technologies across our development portfolio that could help make deep space exploration more Earth-independent by utilizing resources on the Moon and beyond،' said Jim Reuter، associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate in a statement.
'These NIAC Phase III selections are a component of that forward-looking research and we hope new insights will help us achieve more firsts in space.'
With NASA's investment، a tandem of proposals، one from William Whittaker at Carnegie Mellon University and another from Joel Sercel of TransAstra Corporation، will each be given $2 million to study and design technology as well as its implementation throughout the course of the next two years. A proposal dubbed project Skylight would study the deployment of lunar rovers that are capable of formulating 3D models of craters that would help determine if the area is worth mining.
Rovers and their equipped technology would also be able to glean insight into the morphology of craters as well and be sophisticated enough to tell if they contain caves، overlooks، and rappel routes.
'Planetary pits are visionary destinations for exploration and science،' reads a description of the project.
'They are gateways to caves which offer havens for human habitation and clues regarding ancient life on Mars.'