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Visitings labs at NASABy:
Michael Harrington, Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University
At NASA many different fields of science are being utilized to further human space exploration. I noticed lots of effort going into cutting the costs of and increasing the efficiency of space travel, specifically by extracting oxygen, hydrogen, and other elements from regolith (lunar soil) to use as fuel, water, and air for the next leg of the journey into space. The first lab we went to was the Regolith and Environment Science and Oxygen and Lunar Volatile Extraction (RESOLVE) lunar rover development lab. There, the focus was on combining robotics and chemistry to extract, analyze, and produce water from regolith. Another lab we visited develops automated and remote-controlled mining techniques for missions to the Moon and to Mars. Much effort is also going into testing to determine the best material to build launch and landing pads on low-gravity bodies. In the last lab we visited, projects varied from the detection of minerals while a rover is in motion to the effects of LED light color temperatures on the sleep cycles of astronauts.