By Laura Kinoshita Astrobiology Magazine
On Hawai`i’s Mauna Kea volcano, which rises over 13,000 feet above sea level, there is a mid-level base facility where scientists can pretend they are on the moon. Hawai`i’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.
Recently, a team of scientists working for the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) demonstrated its first field test for NASA's In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) Project. Research Operations Manager John Hamilton supported the mission simulation to show how astronauts will be able to prospect for resources on the moon to make their own oxygen, fuel and water from lunar rocks and soil. A key motivation of these experiments is the fact that almost half the moon, by weight, is made of oxygen.
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