SRW Overview and Latest News

 

In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) is essential for sustainable human settlements on the Moon and Mars. MIT's Space Resources Workshop was founded in 2017 by students at the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics to support design-and-build of innovative planetary surface systems. Funding comes from selection as finalists in NASA-sponsored competitions such as BIG Idea ChallengeRASC-AL Special Edition and the RASC-AL Forum

NEW NASA CHALLENGES TEAMS FOR 2022-2023! (22 Sept 2022)

A big welcome to the new MIT Homesteading Mars and MIT Lunar Forge teams, who are in the process of kicking off to compete in the 2023 NASA Challenges! Our annual information and kickoff session took place on Wednesday, September 7th. The Homesteading Mars team will design a crewed human exploration architecture of Mars that can enable astronauts to survive there for at least 7 years with minimal support from Earth, and the Lunar Forge team will design and build a system that will enable the production of lunar infrastructure from ISRU-derived metals found on the Moon. Meanwhile, the continuing Lunar Tower team is preparing for an all-up integrated test to a record 12m height in early October.

BART & MARGE Wins First Place Overall and Best in Theme at NASA's RASC-AL Forum (11 Jul 2022)

The Bipropellant All-in-one isRu Truck & Mobile Autonomous Reactor Generating Electricity (BART & MARGE) is a fully mobile, fully integrated and double-fault-tolerant architecture to produce large quantities of cryogenic methalox propellant on Mars from in-situ subsurface glacial ice deposits and atmospheric carbon dioxide. The concept is based on tandems of two large trucks which are free to produce and liquefy propellant in situ with no fixed centralized infrastructure. The final paper was presented at NASA's RASC-AL Forum that took place from June 20-23, 2022, at Cocoa Beach, FL, with student travel funded by NASA. The team won First Place Overall and Best In Theme (NASA feature story, MIT News story), and received a travel stipend award to present their work at the ASCEND 2022 aerospace conference which will take place from 24-26 October at Las Vegas. The BART & MARGE concept (project page, video) was created by a new team of undergraduate and graduate AeroAstro, EECS, Mathematics and Medical Engineering students with mentorship from our SRW founders and faculty advisors. Please reach out for more information (Contact tab).
 

WORMS Selected As Finalist by NASA's BIG Idea Challenge (24 Feb 2022)

Our workshop's team and project, the Walking, Oligomeric, Robotic Mobility System (WORMSproject pagevideo), has been selected as a finalist in the 2022 BIG Idea Challenge and funded with $175K to carry out a technology demonstration at JPL in November 2022. WORMS is a modular architecture for the rapid assembly of effectively unlimited variants of extreme terrain access and tailored heavy-duty robots. Robot configurations specialized to the task at hand can be rapidly reconfigured in the field out of worm-like robots that can function as arms, legs, backbones and much more. 

 

Critical innovations include the Universal Interface Block which permits rigid coupling and electrical power transfer between architecture elements, and the Species Modules which confer special skills to individual worms, enabling the emergence of higher level functions through the synergistic, symbiotic collaboration of different worm species in a robot configuration. Each new robot configuration requires only new software plus a small number of existing worms and accessories which can be repurposed from existing, no-longer-needed configurations. As long as the software exists in the code library and the necessary worms and accessories are at hand, any library robot configuration can be assembled by a non-specialist in a matter of hours or minutes and assigned to its task. The architecture is designed to be resilient, easily maintainable, low-cost, evolvable, versatile, flexible and future-proof. 

Following WORMS's selection as a finalist in NASA's 2022 BIG Idea Challenge, our team will build and demonstrate prototype technologies at the forum that will take place at JPL in November 2022. This proof-of-concept will demonstrate key capabilities needed by a WORMS-family quadruped unspooling a power cable from a lander in sunlight to a location inside a permanently shadowed region, where it will set up a service station for other robots providing them with a power recharge point and radio relay services. For more information, please reach out to a member of our WORMS team. Our information is in the Contact tab.