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Giant blanket could protect astronauts on moon
Engineering students at North Carolina State University (NCSU) designed a "lunar texshield," a layered blanket made of lightweight polymer material. The outer surface of the shield is a flexible array of solar cells that generate electricity. Underneath, a layer of radiation shielding deflects or absorbs incoming particles, to better protect astronauts in lunar outposts.

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Astronauts who previously traveled to the moon had little protection against radiation, but were only exposed to it for a short amount of time. NASA's plans to return astronauts to the moon by 2020 - and to potentially keep them there for several months at a time - could be stymied by space radiation.
Now, groups all over the globe are trying to determine ways to combat space radiation - including a group of students in North Carolina State University's College of Textiles. Their work is part of a competition held by the Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) - which is sponsored by NASA and National Institute of Aerospace. The contest challenges university students to think about what sorts of conditions astronauts will face when returning to the moon, then design projects that may become part of actual lunar exploration.

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NASA will probably not build an outpost on the moon as originally planned, the agency's acting administrator, Chris Scolese, told lawmakers on Wednesday. His comments also hinted that the agency is open to putting more emphasis on human missions to destinations like Mars or a near-Earth asteroid.

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Lunar explorers had better be handy with a vacuum cleaner. A new "lunar dust buster" may be an essential tool for future missions, allowing astronauts to clean up following grubby moonwalks and prevent the dirt penetrating the moon base.

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Moon bricks
Take some moon dust, add some ground up spaceship, zap the mix with electricity, and presto! Moon bricks.
Astronauts living on the moon could someday use such a formula to construct an interlocking, virtually indestructible dome-shaped home.


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On Hawaii's Mauna Kea volcano, which rises more than 13,000 feet above sea level, there is a place where scientists can pretend they are on the moon. Hawaii's volcanic terrain, soil and remote environment provide an ideal environment for testing instruments and equipment that someday may be used by astronauts at a lunar base.
Scientists working for the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems, or PISCES, recently conducted their first field test for NASA's In Situ Resource Utilisation Project on Mauna Kea.

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Dwellings in colonies on the moon one day may be built with new, highly durable bricks developed by students from the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech.
Initially designed to construct a dome, the building material is composed of a lunar rock-like material mixed with powdered aluminium that can be moulded into any shape. The invention recently won the In-Situ Lunar Resource Utilisation materials and construction category award from the Pacific International Space Centre for Exploration Systems (PISCES). The award was one of two prizes given out this year by the research centre, which is dedicated to supporting life on the moon and beyond.
Design work on the early-development lunar bricks was based on previous work by the College of Engineering student teams adviser Kathryn Logan, a professor of materials science and engineering and the Virginia Tech Langley Professor at the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) in Hampton, Va. The seven-member student team works with Logan at the NIA.

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