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In Situ Resource Utilization


The purpose of In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) is to harness and utilize resources at the site of exploration to create products and services which can enable and significantly reduce the mass, cost, and risk of near-term and long-term space exploration. The ability to make propellants, life support consumables, fuel cell reagents, and radiation shielding can significantly reduce the cost, mass, and risk of sustained human activities beyond Earth. The ability to modify the landscape for safer landing and transfer of payloads, creation of habitat and power infrastructure, and extraction of resources for construction, power, and in-situ manufacturing can also enable long-term, sustainable exploration of the solar system. Since ISRU can be performed wherever resources may exist, both natural and discarded, ISRU systems will need to operate in a variety of environments and gravitations. Also, because ISRU systems and operations have never been demonstrated before in missions, it is important that ISRU concepts and technologies be evaluated under relevant conditions (gravity, environment, and vacuum) as well as anchored through modeling to regolith/soil and environmental conditions. While the discipline of ISRU can encompass a large variety of different concept areas, resources, and products, the ISRU Topic will focus on technologies and capabilities associated with solid in-situ material handling and processing along with atmospheric and trash/waste processing.

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