Moon excavator to be tested in Warsaw in July

Grzegorz Momot/PAP

In six years' time an excavator designed by experts from the Space Research Centre of the Polish Institute of Sciences (CBK PAN) will be used on the moon. Testing of the equipment is due to start in Warsaw next month.

In 2025 the European Space Agency plans to send the first in-situ resource utilisation (Lunar ISRU) test mission to the moon. The main aim of the mission will be to collect local resources from the surface of the moon and produce water and oxygen from the gathered samples inside the excavating machine.

Taking part in the project will be the team from the Warsaw-based Laboratory of Robotics and Satellite Mechatronics CBK PAN.

CBK PAN makes up part of two international consortiums, coordinated by the Belgium company Space Applications Services, who work on equipment for collecting samples from the moon's surface.

Regolith, a loose dusty soil which makes up the top top-layer of the lunar surface, is mainly made up of oxygen, silicon, iron, calcium, titanium, aluminium and magnesium, may be used in the future for the construction of buildings. Regolith can be sintered (converted into a solid mass by a process of heating). As one of the components is silicon, the material can also be used for the production of photovoltaic panels.