NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program has selected for funding proposals from Paragon Space Development Corp. and Lynntech, Inc. for the development of systems that can convert carbon dioxide into methane on Mars. The projects will receive SBIR Phase II funding.
“Paragon Space Development Corporation (Paragon) and ENrG Incorporated (ENrG) are teaming to provide a highly efficient reactor for carbon monoxide/carbon dioxide (CO/CO2) conversion into methane (CH4). The system is a gravity-independent, compact, leak-tight, Solid Oxide Electrolyzer (SOE) system with embedded Sabatier reactors (ESR),” according to the proposal summary.
NASA has selected Astrobotic Technology of Pittsburgh for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II award to facilitate the better planning and execution of resource extraction missions on the moon, Mars and other worlds.
“The proposed work develops a computer-aided mission planning tool that balances the competing demands of efficient routes, scientific information gain, and rover constraints (e.g., kinematics, communication, power, thermal, and terrainability) to generate and analyze optimized routes between sequences of locations,” according to the project’s technical abstract.
The company says that the planning tool would be directly applicable to the planned Lunar Resource Prospector Mission, which is a joint NASA-CSA effort to extra volatiles on the moon. The mission is targeted for launch later in this decade.
Following a series of reconnaissance missions that found hydrogen and then water on the Moon, NASA is laying the groundwork for a lunar rover that would scout for subsurface volatiles and extract them for processing.
The heart of the proposed (RPM) is the Regolith and Environment Science and Oxygen & Lunar Volatile Extraction (RESOLVE) payload, a technology development initiative that predates its official start two years ago in NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate’s Advanced Exploration Systems Division.