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A member of the winning team of NASA’s 2023’s BIG Idea Challenge working on their Lunar Forge project, Production of Steel from Lunar Regolith through Carbonyl Iron Refining (CIR).University of Utah Through Artemis, NASA plans to conduct long-duration human and robotic missions on the lunar surface in preparation for future crewed exploration of Mars. Expanding exploration capabilities requires a robust lunar infrastructure, including practical and cost-effective ways to construct a lunar base. One method is employing in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) – or the ability to use naturally occurring resources – to produce consumables and build structures in the future, which will make explorers more Earth-independent.
An ISRU process that NASA wants to learn more about is forging metals from lunar minerals to create structures and tools in the future. Through its 2023 Breakthrough, Innovative and Game-Changing (BIG) Idea Lunar Forge Challenge, NASA sought innovative concepts from university students to design an ISRU metal production pipeline on the Moon. The year-and-a-half-long challenge, funded by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) and Office of STEM Engagement, supports NASA’s Lunar Surface Innovation Initiative in developing new approaches and novel technologies to pave the way for successful exploration on the surface of the Moon.
Finalist teams presented their research, designs, prototypes, and testing results to a panel of NASA and industry judges at a culminating forum on Nov. 16, in Cleveland, Ohio.
The University of Utah team, partnering with Powder Metallurgy Research Laboratory, earned the Artemis Award, which represents top honors in the 2023 BIG Idea Challenge. Their lunar forge project, Production of Steel from Lunar Regolith through Carbonyl Iron Refining (CIR), represents a promising avenue to extract iron from reduced lunar regolith and refine it into a high purity powder product in a two-stage process. The Artemis Award is given to the team whose concept has the best potential to contribute to and be integrated into an Artemis mission.
There were multiple times we came close to scrapping the concept, but each time we found the strength to go a little farther. Our small group was driven by a genuine belief in the concept and curiosity of what would happen. This honor has validated the perseverance, effort, and dedication of exploring an innovative and applied idea. Participating in this challenge has allowed us to gain a tremendous and unique experience in technical and collaboration skills. We are incredibly grateful for this opportunity and for the friends we made along the way!
Collin Andersen, Team Lead
University of Utah and Powder Metallurgy Research Laboratory
The University of Utah team, partnering with Powder Metallurgy Research Laboratory, earned the Artemis Award, which represents top honors in the 2023 BIG Idea Challenge. Credit: National Institute of Aerospace Teams could select to address technologies needed along any point in the lunar metal production pipeline, including, but not limited to:
Metal detecting Metal refining Forming materials for additive manufacturing Testing and qualifying 3D printed infrastructure for use on the Moon In January, teams submitted proposal packages, from which seven finalists were selected in March 2023 for funding of up to $180,000, totaling nearly $1.1 million across all teams. The finalists then worked for nine months designing, developing, and demonstrating their concepts. The 2023 BIG Idea program concluded at its annual forum, where teams presented their results and answered questions from judges, followed by an interactive poster session. Experts from NASA and other aerospace companies evaluated the student concepts based on technical innovation, credibility, management, and teams’ verification testing. In addition to the presentation, the teams provided a technical paper and technical poster detailing their proposed metal production pipeline.
This was a fantastic experience for both the student and NASA participants. The university concepts for how to forge metal on the Moon were inspiring and resulted in diverse, novel approaches for the agency to consider, as well as an extensive learning experience for students. The BIG Idea Challenge proves time and time again that engaging the academic community in complex technology challenges is a worthwhile endeavor for everyone involved.
Director of technology maturation within STMD
In addition to the top spot, several teams were recognized in other categories, including:
Edison Award: Missouri University of Science & Technology
Path-to-Flight Award: University of North Texas with Advanced Materials & Manufacturing Processes Institute at UNT; Enabled Engineering
Systems Engineering: Northwestern University with Wearifi, Inc.
Best Verification Demonstration: Colorado School of Mines
BIG Picture Award: Massachusetts Institute of Technology with Honeybee Robotics
Innovation Award: Pennsylvania State University with RFHIC & Jacobs Space Exploration Group
The 2023 BIG Idea Challenge is sponsored by NASA through a collaboration between STMD’s Game Changing Development program and the Office of STEM Engagement’s Space Grant project. The Challenge is managed by a partnership between the National Institute of Aerospace and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL).
Students from Northwestern University with Wearifi, Inc., winners of the 2023 BIG Idea Challenge System’s Engineering award.Credit: Northwestern University Colorado School of Mines team members are shown submerging the housing into a furnace holding simulated regolith melt > 1,300°C in the 2023 BIG Idea Challenge.Credit: Colorado School of Mines An image of MIT’s floating zone furnace set up for the unbeneficiated small-scale experiment. Credit: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Missouri University of Science & Technology’s team members are shown working on their lunar forge project in the 2023 BIG Idea Challenge.Credit: Missouri University of Science & Technology An image of furrowed soil created by ACRE’s plow in Northwestern’s BIG Idea Challenge project. Credit: Northwestern University Penn State University’s SMELT system is shown during experiments with 20-g samples during the 2023 BIG Idea Challenge. Credit: Penn State University Student from Missouri University of Science and Technology working on the team’s lunar forge project in the 2023 BIG Idea Challenge.Credit: Missouri University of Science and Technology An overview image depicts how University of North Texas’s SIMPLE project works, in the 2023 BIG Idea Challenge. Credit: University of North Texas Colorado School of Mines team members pouring regolith slag into tile sandcasting molds to review applicability for use as building products in the 2023 BIG Idea Challenge. Credit: Colorado School of Mines An image of one step in the process of reducing anorthite to alumina in Missouri University of Science & Technology’s BIG Idea Challenge project. Credit: Missouri University of Science and Technology Penn State University’s SMELT system is shown during experiments with 20-g samples during the 2023 BIG Idea Challenge. Credit: Penn State University The University of Utah team, partnering with Powder Metallurgy Research Laboratory, earned the Artemis Award, which represents top honors in the 2023 BIG Idea Challenge. Pictured here with Dave Moore, Program Manager for NASA’s Game Changing Development program. Credit: Amy McCluskey, National Institute of Aerospace BIG Idea Challenge winners of the Best Verification Demonstration, Colorado School of MinesAmy McCluskey, National Institute of Aerospace 2023 BIG Idea Challenge winners of the BIG Picture Award, Massachusetts Institute of Technology with Honeybee Robotics Amy McCluskey, National Institute of Aerospace 2023 BIG Idea Challenge winners of the Edison Award, Missouri University of Science & TechnologyAmy McCluskey, National Institute of Aerospace 2023 BIG Idea Challenge winners of the Innovation Award, Pennsylvania State University with RFHIC & Jacobs Space Exploration GroupAmy McCluskey, National Institute of Aerospace 2023 BIG Idea Challenge winners of the Path to Flight Award, University of North Texas with Advanced Materials & Manufacturing Processes Institute at UNT; Enabled EngineeringCredit: Amy McCluskey, National Institute of Aerospace 2023 BIG Idea Challenge winners of the Systems Engineering Award, Northwestern University with Wearifi, Inc.Credit: Amy McCluskey, National Institute of Aerospace NASA sponsors the 2023 BIG Idea Challenge through its Game Changing Development program and the Office of STEM Engagement’s Space Grant project. The National Institute of Aerospace and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland managed the challenge for NASA.
Team presentations, technical papers, and digital posters are available on the BIG Idea website.
For full competition details, visit:
NASA’s 2023 annual Breakthrough, Innovative and Game-Changing (BIG) Idea Challenge asks college students to design technologies that will support a metal production pipeline on the Moon – from extracting metal from lunar minerals to creating structures and tools. NASA/Advanced Concepts Lab Keep Exploring Discover More Topics From NASA
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4 Min Read Arkansas City Welcomes NASA to Discuss 2024 Total Solar Eclipse
Adam Kobelski, a solar astrophysicist with Marshall, shares tips to safely view a total solar eclipse. Many U.S. cities, including Russellville, Arkansas, are planning watch parties to view the April 2024 total solar eclipse. Credits: Joshua Mashon The contiguous United States will see only one total solar eclipse between now and the year 2044, and the citizens of Russellville, Arkansas, are ready.
On Monday, April 8, 2024, the Moon will pass between the Sun and Earth, providing a rare opportunity for those in the path of the Moon’s shadow to see a total solar eclipse, including the Sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona. With more than 100,000 tourists expected to visit Russellville for this rare experience, elected officials and industry leaders hosted a team of NASA experts from the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to discuss educational outreach opportunities.
More than 1,000 people attended a free solar eclipse presentation in Russellville, Arkansas, featuring experts from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, Oct. 30. Joshua Mashon “Having NASA involved elevates the importance of this eclipse and amplifies the excitement for our community,” said Russellville Mayor Fred Teague. “We are thankful for the rich discussions and insight provided by NASA, and we look forward to hosting them again during the April eclipse.”
Due to the length of the eclipse totality in Russellville, NASA is planning to host part of the agency’s live television broadcast from the city, as well as conduct several scientific presentations and public outreach events for visitors. Additional factors for selecting Russellville included access to a large university, and proximity to Little Rock – the state’s capital – to engage media outlets and key stakeholders representing industry and academia.
The day-long Oct. 30 visit helped NASA learn how the city is preparing for the massive influx of tourists and news media personnel. Christie Graham, director of Russellville Tourism, explained the city’s commitment to the eclipse and how their planning processes started more than a year in advance.
“Months ago, we created our solar eclipse outreach committee, consisting of key stakeholders and thought leaders from across the city,” Graham said. “We’ve developed advanced communication and emergency management plans which will maximize our city’s resources and ensure everyone has a safe and memorable viewing experience.”
Following the NASA public presentation about the April 2024 total solar eclipse, Kobelski chats with guests interested in learning more about NASA and heliophysics. NASA/Christopher Blair This visit also provided NASA an opportunity to share important heliophysics messaging with the public, including the next generation of scientists, engineers, and explorers. To learn how best to interact with local students, NASA team members met with the Russellville School District Superintendent Ginni McDonald and Arkansas Tech University President Russell Jones.
“Leveraging the eclipse to provide quality learning opportunities will be a valuable and unforgettable experience for all,” said McDonald. “Our staff enjoyed discussing best strategies and look forward to sharing NASA educational content with our students.”
The team also discussed internship opportunities available for students to work at NASA centers across the nation, as well as how to get involved in NASA’s Artemis student challenges, sophisticated engineering design challenges available for middle school, high school, college and university students.
“Our university serves nearly 10,000 students, many pursuing a variety of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) degrees, including mechanical and electrical engineering, biological and computer sciences, nursing, and more,” Jones said.
It is important our students learn of the many unique opportunities available with NASA and how they can get involved.”
Arkansas Tech University President
“It is important our students learn of the many unique opportunities available with NASA and how they can get involved.”
The agency’s visit concluded with a free public presentation at the Center for Performing Arts, where more than 1,000 attendees gained insight on the upcoming eclipse from Dr. Adam Kobelski, a solar astrophysicist at Marshall. Following the presentation, all NASA team members participated in a question-and-answer session with audience members of all ages.
Overall, the visit proved valuable for everyone with NASA team members remarking how enthusiastic and prepared both Russellville and the university are to support the eclipse event.
Adam Kobelski, a solar astrophysicist with Marshall, shares tips to safely view a total solar eclipse. Many U.S. cities, including Russellville, Arkansas, are planning watch parties to view the April 2024 total solar eclipse. “It was a refreshing reminder of the public’s excitement for the science we conduct at NASA,” said Kobelski. “This experience established my overall confidence in their readiness to successfully host a quality viewing experience for everyone.”
The April eclipse is part of the Heliophysics Big Year, a global celebration of solar science and the Sun’s influence on Earth and the entire solar system. Everyone is encouraged to participate in solar science events such as watching solar eclipses, experiencing an aurora, participating in citizen science projects, and other fun Sun-related activities.
Cities across the nation are planning eclipse watch parties and other celebrations to commemorate the event. Weather permitting, the April 2024 total eclipse will be visible across 13 states, from Texas to New York.
Learn More About the 2024 Eclipse Christopher Blair
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala
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Submit Your 2024 Event Proposal to NASA Glenn
Lilia Miller and Molly Kearns, employees from NASA’s Glenn Research Center, discuss communication in space as they build paper satellites with students during a STEM event at Rocket Mortgage Field House in Cleveland, Ohio.NASA/GRC/Jef Janis Solicitation posted: Oct. 26, 2023
Proposal form URL: https://osirris.grc.nasa.gov/request/request.cfm
Proposal submission deadline: Nov. 24, 2023
Notification of event selection: Dec. 15, 2023
2024 Call for Event Proposals
NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland is seeking to collaborate with organizations across the country to bring the NASA experience to new, diverse audiences.
This opportunity is designed to provide organizations with:
Interactive NASA exhibits and historical artifacts to showcase NASA’s missions and research. Access to NASA subject matter experts for interactive speaking engagements. The center is requesting event proposals to:
Reach larger audiences by leveraging the experiences of community organizations with existing high-quality events. Strengthen community relationships by collaborating on efforts that result in increased returns on mutually desired outcomes. Raise awareness of NASA’s contributions to the nation’s aeronautics and space programs. NASA’s Glenn Research Center
NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland designs, develops, and tests innovative technology to revolutionize air travel, advance space exploration, and improve life on Earth. As one of 10 NASA centers, and the only one in the Midwest, Glenn is a vital contributor to the region’s economy and culture. Many NASA missions have Glenn contributions, and every U.S. aircraft has NASA Glenn technology on board, making flight cleaner, safer, and quieter.
Glenn is conducting revolutionary aeronautics research in electrified aircraft propulsion, advanced materials, and alternative fuels to help the nation achieve its climate change goals. The center is also exploring next-generation supersonic and hypersonic aircraft.
In addition to its aeronautics research, NASA Glenn’s world-class test facilities and unrivaled expertise in power, propulsion, and communications are crucial to advancing the Artemis program. Glenn’s solar electric propulsion will help propel future missions to the Moon and eventually Mars, where astronauts will conduct scientific research and establish a presence on the surface. The road to the Moon goes through Ohio.
Air-Breathing Propulsion (Jet Engines) Communications In-Space Propulsion and Cryogenic Fluids Management Power, Energy Storage, and Conversion Materials and Structures for Extreme Environments Physical Sciences and Biomedical Technologies in Space Eligibility Requirements
NASA is seeking:
Organizations with established events that have direct connections to their communities and reach diverse audiences.
Greater consideration will be given to organizations reaching underserved and/or underrepresented communities. For purposes of this solicitation, underserved and/or underrepresented communities include Black, Latino, Indigenous, and Native American persons; Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and other persons of color; members of religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) persons; persons with disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality (source: NASA’s Mission Equity). Greater consideration may also be given to organizations throughout the Great Lakes Region (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin) based on factors such as schedule and budget availability. Events scheduled to occur between Jan. 1, 2024, and Dec. 31, 2024. Selected organizations must agree to the following:
Attend mutually agreed-upon planning meetings held virtually through an online business communication platform. Be responsible for coordinating all marketing, media communications, and logistics as described in the event proposal. Adhere to NASA Media Usage Guidelines for NASA media and logos. Provide final attendance data within one week of the conclusion of the event including the following: Number of attendees Estimated percentage of attendees from underrepresented audiences Submitting a Proposal
All proposals are to be submitted through the online proposal form here. Proposals must be submitted by 5 p.m. Eastern time on Nov. 24, 2023. Only proposals submitted online will be accepted.
Proposal Review Process
Proposals will be evaluated to determine the likelihood of event success using the following criteria:
Number of proposed audience participants. Percentage of audience from underrepresented populations as defined in the solicitation. Alignment of the program’s goals and objectives to those of this opportunity. Expected return on investment of NASA resources. Plans to maximize audience participation through marketing and media communications. Evidence of historical attendance at this or similar events hosted by the proposing organization. Proposing organizations will be notified of their selection status by Dec. 15, 2022.
Point of Contact
If you have questions about the project or the online proposal form, contact NASA Glenn Research Center’s Office of Communications at: GRC-Public-Engagement@mail.nasa.gov
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NASA Glenn Seeking Proposals to Support 2024 Events
Oct. 26, 2023
NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland wants to collaborate with organizations across the country to bring the NASA experience to new, diverse audiences.
Glenn has a collection of engaging exhibits and a pool of experts who can speak on space and aeronautics topics. NASA engagement is popular, and each year Glenn receives more event requests than it can accommodate.
Organizations are invited to take advantage of this opportunity and submit proposals for established events taking place in 2024 that could benefit from a NASA engagement presence.
This opportunity is designed to provide organizations with:
Interactive NASA exhibits and historical artifacts to showcase NASA’s missions and research. Access to NASA subject matter experts for interactive speaking engagements. All proposals are to be submitted through an online proposal form. Proposals must be submitted by 5 p.m. Eastern time on Nov. 17, 2023. Only proposals submitted online will be accepted for review. For more information about this opportunity, visit: LINK.
For answers to questions about the project or proposal form, contact NASA Glenn’s Office of Communications at GRC-Public-Engagement@mail.nasa.gov.
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NASA Targets 2024 for First Flight of X-59 Experimental Aircraft
NASA’s X-59 research aircraft moved from its construction site to the flight line — or the space between the hangar and the runway — at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works in Palmdale, California on June 16, 2023. The move allowed the X-59 team to perform safety and structural testing, critical steps toward first flight.Lockheed-Martin NASA’s Quesst mission has adjusted the scheduled first flight of its X-59 quiet supersonic aircraft to 2024.
A one-of-a-kind experimental aircraft, the X-59 has required complex engineering from NASA researchers working with prime contractor Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. In addition to the aircraft’s design, the X-59 also combines new technology with systems and components from multiple, established aircraft, such as its landing gear from an F-16 and its life-support system adapted from an F-15.
As part of the demands of developing this unique aircraft, the Quesst team is working through several technical challenges identified over the course of 2023, when the X-59 had been scheduled to make its first flight. Extra time is needed to fully integrate systems into the aircraft and ensure they work together as expected. The team is also resolving intermittent issues with some of the safety-redundant computers that control the aircraft’s systems.
Quesst made steady progress toward flight over the past year. The team installed the finishing touches to the X-59’s tail structure, which allowed them to finalize its electrical wiring and proceed to critical ground tests, and moved it from its assembly facility to the flight line to perform structural testing.
The X-59 will demonstrate the ability to fly supersonic, or faster than the speed of sound, while reducing the normally loud sonic boom to a quiet sonic thump. NASA plans to fly the X-59 over several communities to gather data on how people perceive the sound it produces. The agency will provide that information to U.S. and international regulators to potentially adjust rules that currently prohibit commercial supersonic flight over land.
NASA’s top priorities for any mission are safety and ensuring success. For Quesst, that means not only being sure that the X-59 is safe before it flies, but safe in the long term and reliable during the community test phase. The aircraft is currently undergoing integrated testing, which must be completed before it flies. Once that stage is complete, the aircraft will continue its journey with a flight readiness review, at which point NASA plans to release a more specific timeline for first flight.
Quesst is a mission with the potential to revolutionize commercial aviation travel by dramatically reducing travel time. Safely and reliably flying the X-59 is critical for NASA to achieve those benefits. The agency is committed to a thorough review and testing process that results in the success of that mission.
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