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Students testing space projects on Mount Pilatus

The third edition of the research platform IGLUNA for the promotion of innovative space projects is currently taking place at the Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne and on Mount Pilatus. International teams of students are presenting their projects on the subject of “A space habitat with remote operations”.

The GrowBotHub team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne is also participating in the third edition of the IGLUNA research platform.
The GrowBotHub team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne is also participating in the third edition of the IGLUNA research platform. Image: provided by IGLUNA

Based at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), the academic-industrial network Space Innovation is currently organizing the 2021 Field Campaign for its research platform IGLUNA. Up to July 25, a total of twelve groups of students from various international universities will be presenting their ideas on the subject of the third edition of IGLUNA: “A space habitat with remote operations”.

The field campaign for this third edition of IGLUNA is taking place at the Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne as well as ‘up high’: Robots can be seen on the Pilatus-Kulm peak and at Krienseregg, which are remotely controlled from the museum. The control center is located in the aviation hall and can be viewed by visitors to the museum.

The goal of the mission is to demonstrate technologies to preserve life in an extreme environment for a space habitat and to operate the innovative technologies via remote control processes. A panel of experts from space agencies, renowned international companies and research institutions are supporting and supervising the students throughout the year to consolidate the projects for the field campaign.

For example, a six-strong team from TU Berlin designed the blue rover LUIEE (Lunar Ice Extraction and Electrolysis), which can melt ice on the moon, collect condensation and split this into water and oxygen by means of electrolysis. In this way, it could supply lunar missions with water and oxygen and operate their vehicles with hydrogen. Sneha Benjamin, 26, is responsible for the system technology and electronic design of the rover. In an interview with the newspaper “Luzerner Zeitung”, she explained that this makes refueling stopovers on a planet a distinct possibility.

The newspaper reports further that around 30 members of the team from the Technical University of Munich are operating another rover. This uses solar energy to sinter lunar sand to create secured platforms or roads, for example. The GrowBotHub at EPFL has figured out how robots could be used to sow and harvest plants in a lunar village without soil. A similar project at the Warsaw University of Technology uses bacteria-enriched lunar soil.

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