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News From The Lunar Ark!

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Release Date: 05/02/2021

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Andrea Macdonald, founder of ideaXme interviews Jekan Thanga, PhD., Head of SpaceTREx laboratory, Principal Investigator of the NASA-funded ASTEROIDS laboratory and Assistant Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Arizona. They discuss the latest developments at the laboratories. Moreover, ideaXme receives a news exclusive relating to SpaceTREx's proposal to build a "Noah's Ark" on the Moon. Jump to timestamp - 37 minutes to discover that news!

The Lunar Ark:

SpaceTREx in collaboration with the ASTEROIDS laboratory has proposed utilization of lunar lava tubes as a modern day "Lunar Ark." These subsurface lava tubes are only 4-5 days journey from Earth and are hypothesized to have been pristine for 3-4 billion years. These shelters could be the ideal location for preserving seeds, spores sperms, eggs, and DNA of Earth's rich biodiversity. They estimate needing to preserve 6.7 million species of plants, animals and fungi. SpaceTREx: The Space and Terrestrial Robotic Exploration (SpaceTREx) Laboratory at University of Arizona's Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Department develop systems engineering design and control solutions for space, planetary and asteroid exploration, using small spacecraft, robots and sensor network devices. Research is focused on developing enabling technologies for extreme environment exploration, interplanetary CubeSat explorers and on-orbit servicing spanning spacecraft constellations, propulsion, power and communications. The laboratory and key personnel have a diverse range of expertise including CubeSat design, development, launch expertise, smart system design and control using bio-inspired and neural network control paradigms, space weather and extreme-environment robotics.

News relating to the Lunar Ark:

Jekan Thanga, Head of SpaceTREx: [37:10] In the next week or so at the Interplanetary Small Satellite Conference, we're going to be giving an update to the world about progress that we've been making on the Lunar Ark project. And I can give you an early indication of what that update will entail. We've branched out into two fronts, further exploring and advancing the Lunar Ark concept. One is, we've been looking at how we could start the Lunar Ark project in the near term. In the original idea we talk of preserving six point seven million species. It's going to take a lot of resources. It's going to require advancement in cryogenic. We think it's at least 30 years away. But can we get started now? Can we at least start to see important bio matter there as we speak? And so that's the second thrust that we're looking at. What would it take specifically to go out and explore these lava tubes in one mission and in that second mission? What would it take to take seed samples just like from Svalbard and deploy them into these laboratories? And so we've been doing some early feasibility studies on those fronts. And on a second thrust, we've been trying to we've been identifying the component technologies that are needed for this whole effort of, you know, the Lunar Arc. And one of that means transport of all this bio matter from Earth on at least a five day journey to the Moon under cryo conditions. And so you need some kind of cryo container that can do that for you. And so we've developed a prototype cryo container experiment. And so we'll be sharing details about that in this upcoming conference. And that, too, is another effort to further build up the building blocks necessary for the bigger project.

Official Bio:

Jekan Thanga heads the Space and Terrestrial Robotic Exploration (SpaceTREx) Laboratory at University of Arizona. He is the Principal Investigator of the NASA-funded ASTEROIDS (Asteroid Science, Technology and Exploration Research Organized by Inclusive eDucation) Laboratory which is in the process of being upgraded into a research center. Jekan Thanga has 20 years of experience working in the aerospace research sector and is a senior member of the AIAA. He has been an expert reviewer for government agencies including NASA and NSF and has been a Subject Matter Expert on space matters for DoD organizations.

Jekan Thanga links: https://ame.engineering.arizona.edu/f... https://www.linkedin.com/in/jthanga http://spacetrex.arizona.edu http://spacetrex.arizona.edu/lunarark...

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