The Andy Thomas Centre for Space Resources (ATCSR) at the University of Adelaide is rapidly emerging as a key contributor and partner in Australian space research and education. With its principal mission of enabling long-term human presence in deep space, the ATCSR collaborates with industry, research institutions and governments across the globe to create a vibrant and collaborative ecosystem focused on in-situ resource utilisation (ISRU) for off-world habitation and deep space exploration.
The Centre’s inclusion of law, psychology, architecture, agricultural and artistic expertise alongside civil and mechanical engineering, computer science and mechatronics creates a unique interdisciplinary environment for tackling the challenges and opportunities facing humans living far from Earth.
Recent visits to the University of Adelaide by NASA and JAXA and other notable space companies and research organisations have provided valuable opportunities for students and researchers to showcase their work to an international audience. Several research programs are now underway in the Extraterrestrial Environmental Simulation (EXTERRES) Laboratory, including characterisation of regolith and preparation of building materials using lunar regolith (simulants), construction processes and architectural designs. This work was recently presented at the Space Resources Round Table, Colorado School of Mines, and the New Mining Frontiers stream of the 26th World Mining Congress as well as a series of international industry and academic meetings.
Working with our Centre partners, researchers are also involved in industry-led projects focused on supporting future lunar missions. Projects that apply machine vision and image processing to surface mapping, ground characterisation and resource preparation techniques for the lunar surface are currently underway.
(image) Rolling Dynamic Compaction rig testing the characteristics of lunar highland regolith simulant.
Australian Rover Challenge III
The third annual Australian Rover Challenge (ARCh3), held earlier this year, was, again, a great success. With eight teams competing including its first international team, the ARCh was expanded to four days of competition. With over 100 participants and thousands of spectators attending the event and following online, the ARCh reached its greatest audience yet.
This year’s challenge also included a special space outreach event where children visiting the TeNQ space museum in Tokyo were able to remotely operate rovers in the EXTERRES testing pit. The ATCSR and the EXTERRES Lab are regular features in school visits to the University of Adelaide and this event highlights the lab’s capability and appeal.
(image) The competing teams of ARCh 2023.
Space Resource Fundamentals
The ATCSR is again offering its Space Resource Fundamentals short course in October this year. Presented over five days, participants will hear from a team of national and international experts on topics including in-situ resource utilization, off-Earth civil engineering and construction, as well as the evolving space legal environment and the emerging fields of deep space psychology, space agriculture and manufacturing.
Participants will have a new perspective on potential resource destinations across our solar system and leave the course with a new understanding of the technologies, systems and processes required to achieve a long-term human presence in deep space.
Space Resource Fundamentals will be held 9-13 October 2023 and is available online or in person and more information can be found on the University of Adelaide’s Professional and Continuing Education (PACE) website: https://pace.adelaide.edu.au/pace.
Connecting with the ATCSR
If you are a space industry member, interested researcher or prospective student looking for a cutting-edge research and education partner, the team at the ATCSR are happy to hear from you. To find out more about the ATCSR, contact the centre at:
image The competing teams of ARCh 2023.