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 Challenge, RASC-AL Special Edition and the RASC-AL Forum.
UPDATES FROM 2022-23 NASA CHALLENGES TEAMS (7 Oct 2023)
MIT's 2023 BIG Idea Challenge team, ARTEMIS Steelworks, is a finalist in the Lunar Forge challenge. The team is developing a Molten Regolith Electrolysis proof of concept system to produce steel from lunar regolith simulant (proposal video) and will be traveling to NASA's Glenn Research Center in Ohio next month to present their results.
The Pale Red Dot team received the First Place Overall and Best in Theme: Homesteading Mars awards at this year's NASA's 2023 RASC-AL Forum which took place from 12-14 June at Cocoa Beach, Florida. The team designed a crewed human exploration architecture of Mars that can enable astronauts to survive there for at least 7 years with minimal support from Earth. The concept is a polis-based architecture for the long-term exploration of the Red planet, with exciting and diverse developmental opportunities to thrive. Details are available in the project page.
BART & MARGE Wins First Place Overall and Best in Theme at NASA's RASC-AL Forum (11 Jul 2022)
WORMS Awarded Best Technical Paper at NASA's BIG Idea Challenge (17 Nov 2022)
Our workshop's team and project, the Walking, Oligomeric, Robotic Mobility System (WORMS - project page, proposal video, project overview video) received the Best Technical Paper award at NASA's 2022 BIG Idea Challenge. The team was selected as a finalist in February 2022, carried out detailed design and procurement in the Spring, and built the components over the summer and completed 14 integrated tests during the Fall. 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 built and demonstrated a proof-of-concept hexapod configuration in November 2022 focusing on the maturation of three key enabling technologies, the Universal Interface Block (UIB), power-sharing and coordination of operations between the six independent Worm robots. For more information, please reach out to a member of our WORMS team. Our information is in the Contact tab.