Colorado School of Mines researchers get $2 million from NASA
By Emilie Rusch
The Colorado School of Mines has received $2 million in NASA funding to further study the extraction of lunar regolith.
The Mines team is focused on molten regolith electrolysis (MRE), one of the leading processes for extracting oxygen and metal from the lunar regolith.
“It’s so expensive to land materials on the moon if you’re bringing them from Earth,” said Kevin Cannon, assistant professor of geology and geological engineering at Colorado School of Mines.
“The cost to get anything down to the moon is about $1 million – per kilogram.”
Cannon is leading an interdisciplinary team of Mines researchers that recently received $2 million in NASA funding to advance technology for the extraction of one of the more bountiful metals found in lunar soil, or regolith: aluminum.
“Essentially what we do is completely melt the regolith, turn it into a lava and electrolyze it to strip out the aluminum,” Cannon said.
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Photo courtesy of NASA.