MONTREAL – The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is launching a competition aimed at developing technologies to purify lunar water.
Canadian innovators are invited to participate in the Aqualunar Challenge to find ways to eliminate pollutants found in lunar water.
According to the ASC, the innovations could improve water purification technologies on Earth, but could also be used to prepare for deep space exploration missions, such as those of the Artemis program.
“We aim to purify water on the Moon. However, these pollutants are also present in some industrial processes here on Earth. So the idea is to kill two birds with one stone, and then use the development of space technologies to ideally contribute to solving common problems on Earth,” Summarized Mathieu Giguere, Director of Planning, Mobilization and Innovation at ASC.
Preparing space habitation missions
The Artemis program's missions aim to send a man and a woman to the moon by 2025, with the goal of sending astronauts to Mars.
For humans to settle for a certain period of time on the Moon or Mars, we must be able to purify water, in order to grow food, but also to produce oxygen and fuel for rockets.
“To make propellants, we electrolyze water, which produces oxygen and hydrogen,” summarized Mathieu Giguere.
Polluted lunar water
NASA has undertaken several missions to determine whether the Moon contains water. One such mission, carried out about fifteen years ago, involved crashing a two-ton probe into a permanently darkened area of a lunar crater.
NASA then observed the dust cloud emanating from it. “There was the presence of water, but there was also the presence of large pollutants such as hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, carbon monoxide and others,” Matthew Giguere explained.
He added, “This is the only mission that has proven very accurately the presence of pollutants.”» In the moon water.
Canadian innovators have until April 8 to submit their concept and have the opportunity to participate in the Aqualunaire Challenge, an international collaboration project between the United Kingdom and Canada.
In a press release, ASC listed four goals for the Aqualunaire Challenge.
The technology submitted for the competition must “remove contaminants in water extracted from lunar regolith (soil) to produce usable water or propellant.”
It will also “reduce energy consumption during the water purification process and the need to replenish water and fuel, among other things.”
Finally, the innovation should make it possible to “separate contaminants and create byproducts to support human survival on the Moon.”
“The competition is aimed at Canadian innovators. So, whether they're companies or non-profit organizations, whether they're individuals or research groups, it's really open to all Canadians,” said Mr. Giguere.
The total grants awarded for all stages of the challenge may reach one million dollars.
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