USC Wins Prestigious NASA Research Award for the Moon and Mars — As NASA’s Curiosity rover continues its exploration of Mars, USC professors have won a highly prestigious NASA research award to develop new robotic construction technologies for building structures on the Moon and Mars. Professors Behrokh Khoshnevis (Engineering), Anders Carlson (Architecture), Neil Leach (Architecture) and Madhu Thangavelu (Astronautics) have been awarded a Phase 2 NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) research award for a project titled “ISRU Based Robotic Construction Technologies for Lunar and Martian Infrastructure.”
The project is based on the concept of “In Situ Resource Utilization” (ISRU), and seeks to use resources readily available on the Moon and Mars as construction materials for novel robotic construction technologies in order to build infrastructural elements, such as roads, landing pads, blast walls and storage spaces. The project builds upon the success of an earlier NIAC Phase 1 award won by the team for a project titled “Contour Crafting Simulation Plan for Lunar Settlement Infrastructure.” Competition for Phase 2 research awards was extremely intense. Only 1 in 30 proposals had been successful for Phase 1, and only 1 in 3 of developments of these proposals were successful in being awarded a further Phase 2 research award.
FAR TOP: Design for lunar landing pad to be constructed by Contour Crafting robot. (Visualization by Behnaz Farahi and Connor Wingfield)
ABOVE: A Contour Crafting robot is shown here housed on an ‘Athlete’ lunar rover printing a parabolic vault structure out of processed regolith. (Visualization by Behnaz Farahi and Connor Wingfield)