Bath students hoping to send their experiment to the moon

Three Aerospace Engineering students from the University of Bath are finalists in an international engineering competition, with the winners sending their experiment to the moon.

The LunaDome team is made up of Bath students Sam Brass, Nick Doughty, and Elliot Robinson. They are the only team representing the UK, as one of 25 finalists from over 3000 entries in the Lab2Moon Challenge.

Lab2Moon Challenge

The Lab2Moon Challenge is an international competition run by Indian space technology company Team Indus. The winners of the Lab2Moon Challenge will see their experiment taken to the moon to be tested.

Team Indus are themselves competing in the Google Lunar Xprize, an international competition challenging private companies around the world to land a spacecraft on the moon, deposit a rover that travels at least 500m and sends back to earth high-definition video and pictures. As part of the mission, Team Indus has a factored in a small amount of room for an extra payload to be taken to the moon.

The Lab2Moon competition pits the best students from across the world and challenges them to imagine, design and build a project that will aid the development of sustainable human presence on the moon.

The ‘LunaDome’

The Bath students’ project, the ‘LunaDome’, is an experiment designed to understand the requirements to sustain an earth-like atmosphere in a small dome on the moon. The experimental device is no bigger than a can of coke, weighs less than 250g, and uses a cylinder of compressed gas to inflate a flexible dome to atmospheric pressure.

The temperature on the lunar surface varies between -150°C and +120°C which will cause the pressure in the dome to vary. Therefore, a control system is required to return the pressure to atmospheric when changes occur.

The aim is to maintain a constant pressure suitable for human life and collect data for the temperature variation in the dome. This will help gain an understanding of what heating and cooling capacity an environmental control and life support system would have to achieve for a habitable atmosphere on the lunar surface.

Commenting on the possibility of sending their experiment to space, Sam Brass said: “Being shortlisted in Lab2Moon competition is a fantastic opportunity for us to glimpse into the space industry. The possibility of taking our experiment to the moon and making an influence on human evolution is an extremely exciting prospect.”

Project supervisor and Assistant Professor in Design Engineering in the University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, Dr Vimal Dhokia, added: ‘It is an excellent achievement from Sam, Nick and Elliot, demonstrating again the high quality of Bath Mechanical Engineering students. Even more impressive is that the team put their concept together in little over a week and have made the 25-team shortlist from over 3000 entries!

“I am sure they will do an outstanding job in India and we will watch with anticipation as the results unfold. The very best of luck to team ‘LunaDome’!”

The student team will travel to Bangalore on 12 March and present their prototypes to a board of judges with the winning design placed onto a spacecraft and land on the lunar surface.

Keep up to date with the team’s progress by visiting their Facebook page, subscribing to their YouTube channel, following them on Twitter and visiting their website.

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