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Politecnico and OHB Italia: “Producing water on the Moon is now possible"

Producing water on the surface of the Moon is now possible thanks to a chemical-physical process that allows oxygen to be extracted from the regolith (lunar sand), as demonstrated by the experiments conducted by the Politecnico di Milano and OHB Italy .

The project, carried out as part of the demonstration mission ISRU (In-Situ Resource Utilization) , conceived and funded by ESA , European Space Agency and with the important contribution of ASI , Italian Space Agency is a fundamental element for the colonization of space , and in particular of the Moon.

The ability of humans to produce water on the lunar surface is of prime importance for the survival of crews over long periods of time. This production capacity also frees future colonies from the use of systems that would require a continuous supply from the Earth.

"The result obtained by the Politecnico di Milano and OHB Italia - says professor Michèle Lavagna of the Politecnico di Milano at the helm of the project - opens up new stimulating perspectives in scope of lunar exploration and a permanent and sustainable human presence. It is a process that presents innovative elements of an exquisitely Italian matrix that places our country in a position of international importance in the scenario of the next extra-terrestrial human exploration activities. "</em


The extraction process takes place using a plant built and installed in the laboratories of the Department of Aerospace Sciences and Technologies of the Politecnico. This plant, after being "fed" with sand simulating the lunar soil, managed to produce water , extracting oxygen from the oxides present in the minerals that make up the soil of the Moon.

“Produrre ossigeno in ambiente lunare  – dichiara Roberto Aceti, Alumnus in Aeronautical Engineering and CEO of OHB Italia - testifies how the close collaboration between science, university research and businesses can lead to the development of an industrial product of the highest technological value capable of changing the prospects of our future as well as reconfirming Italy's very high spatial skills on the world stage. "

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Credits header: Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Ice in space: Professor Finzi comments on the latest discovery of Philae

It's been more than 6 anni that Philae has landed on comet 67P (also known as Churyumov-Gerasimenko, from the name of the scientists who found it). It reached its destination in 2014, after a long journey with space probe Rosetta, who left the earth in 2004. On the 12th of november 2014, Philae descended on the comet with a rocky landing, recoiled from its original site of landing, Agilkia and went on a 2 hour journey, then crashing in an unknown site. Philae then landed in a protected corner of the comet (read more about the journey of Philae ).  

The second landing site has been long uknown for the scientist, that have just got the information after years of research. Philae has been under 25 cm of ice in the slope of a crevass, leaving traces of the passage of its components. For the scientists is an important discovery, which will allow us to study pure ice, never been exposed to the sunlight.

Philae has a DNA made in Politecnico. In its center of control there is the work of many Alumni of the Politecnico di Milano and many components have been made by italian companies in collaboration with the Politecnico, such as the electric drill and the solar panels. To learn more about it read the interview that we made in 2014 to Andrea Accomazzo, Alumnus of Areaonatical Engineering in 1995 and Flight Director ESA for mission Rosetta, taken during the landing phase of Philae.

"Philae is saying he has found ice" says Professor Amalia Ercoli Finzi the "mother" of the mission Rosetta, in an interview to the Sole 24 Ore (see the video interview). “We knew already that comets are made of ice, but we have found a special, ancient ice from 4 billion years ago, when the comet has formed. Over the ice theres is a a thin sheet of ice that looks like the foam of a wave. Is wonderful".

We spoke about Rosetta and Professor Amalia Ercoli Finzi in the 1st number of the Magazine Alumni Politecnico di Milano