January 2023 Newsletter

January 2023 Newsletter

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Music - literally - Out of this World

By Exolith Lab

A Spanish research project positions as a pioneer in manufacturing musical instruments made from dust and rocks coming from the surface of the Moon and Mars.

Zaragoza, Spain – Humanity, from its origins, has transformed nature to create music. And in this decade that heralds the colonization of Mars and the Moon, instrument designer Carlos Traginer asked himself the following question: what does music made exclusively with Lunar and Martian materials sound like? To answer this curiosity, Traginer conceived the Hypate Project.

In the first stage of the research, Rodrigo Moreno (ICV-CSIC, PhD in Chemical Sciences), Amparo Borrell (ITM-UPV, PhD in Materials Sciences), Rut Benavente (ITM-UPV PhD in Materials Sciences), and their assistants have manufactured the first "exobells" using Lunar and Martian regolith simulants. Regolith consists of the first layer of unconsolidated solid formed by small fragments of rock and loose minerals.

To obtain this compound, the research has partnered with Exolith Lab. In parallel, the Hypate team will create ceramic instruments with terrestrial materials to compare afterwards the acoustic properties of both instrument lines.

"We did different tests with the regolith simulants and porcelain (such as) x-ray, diffraction, mineralogical characterization, dilatometry, microwave sintering, and so on," says Traginer, "We continue to improve the manufacturing process and the next stop is to compare the acoustic properties of both lines."

Hypate Project brings together a group of top-level collaborators from all the involved disciplines: ceramic artists, researchers from the CSIC and the Polytechnic University of Valencia, geologists, and specialists in acoustics. Among some of those names, we count the doctor in Geological Sciences Jesús Martínez
Frías, an expert in Meteorites, Planetary Geology, and Astrobiology; and Pedro Barceló, Joaquín Sabina’s drummer, who throughout his extensive career has collaborated with artists such as Joan Manuel Serrat and Jorge Drexler.

This project, absolutely pioneering in this world, opens the door to new study fields, like exoacoustics or exoluthery. “Our long-term dream is that humans can manufacture musical instruments on the Moon or on Mars, using materials obtained there”, says Traginer.

At the rate that the exploration of the Universe is currently progressing, perhaps within a few decades, this dream will materialize as a revolution for musical instruments and the sounds known to humans.

Special thanks to:

  • Institute of Ceramics and Glass Spanish National Research Council (ICV-CSIC) Madrid, Spain
  • Materials Technological Institute/ Valencia Polytechnic University (ITM-UPV) Valencia, Spain
  • Traginer Music Research Lab | Zaragoza, Spain

To keep up with the Hypate Project and listen to a sample of the Exobell, follow the Traginer Music Research Lab on Instagram @tmrl_org or click the button below.



Bin There, Done That

By Exolith Lab

In an effort to provide researchers with larger lunar surface testing facilities than currently available, Exolith Lab has started designing the world's largest lunar regolith bin.

Florida, USA — An exciting new space age has begun as the launch of Artemis 1 last November marks the first steps towards putting people back on the moon. To keep up with the increasing demand to test new methodologies for humanity's lunar return, Exolith Lab has started the tedious process of designing and building the world's largest lunar regolith testing bin.

The Engineering Team at Exolith Lab has partnered with local high school interns to tackle the groundbreaking project. The bin will measure 10x10 meters and hold approximately 130 tons of Lunar Highlands Simulant— 32 times the size of Exolith’s other regolith bin, RIDER.

“I was never given this kind of hands-on experience in high school,” says Max Kuehn (BS in Aerospace Engineering), “so to have the opportunity to mentor these students has been hugely significant for me. I want to provide an environment where they realize how large of an impact they are making in the space industry.”

Lucas Weber (BS in Aerospace Engineering) leads the project, focusing specifically on the overall design of the bin and ensuring everything fits together seamlessly. Notable components include the walkway encircling the bin, the in-house airlock system, the base, the gravity off-loading crane, specialized walls, and the roof. The crane will be capable of gravity offloading rovers weighing up to 1 ton by removing 5/6ths of the rover’s mass in order to recreate lunar gravity here on Earth. Additionally, the depth (1 m) of the bin will allow rovers with drilling capabilities to complete various testing procedures and allows for the overall terrain of the bin to be modified to include hills, large rocks, and other features.

Construction of Exolith’s bin is anticipated to be completed in the summer of 2023 with the first major pieces being delivered this month.

“This bin will help us make huge impact into ISRU,” says Weber, “and it will become a major contributing aspect of the upcoming race to get back to the moon.”


Congratulations Grads!

Joshua Conway
BS Aerospace Engineering
After graduating with his degree from the University of Central Florida, Josh plans to continue working for Exolith Lab as a Lead Engineer. He will oversee RIDER operations as testing begins, and aid in the construction of the world's largest regolith bin. "I look forward to helping the Lab grow into a full-fledged ISRU (in-situ resource utilization) center and to helping Exolith secure itself as one of the world's leading space industries."

Steven Elsaid
BS Biology

After graduating with his degree from the University of Central Florida, Steven plans to shift to working full-time as a leader in ISRU research at Exolith Lab. He founded and will oversee the development of the ISRU Plant Growth Research course at UCF, and will continue conducting research on ISRU plant growth and molten regolith electrolysis. "I am so thankful for the opportunity to see, firsthand, how Exolith Lab has grown and for the chance to see what we will become!"

Max Kuehn
BS Aerospace Engineering

Immediately following graduation, Max plans to shift to working full time at Exolith Lab to be able to focus all of his efforts on the goal of making Exolith Lab the world's greatest ISRU research center with the world's greatest people! "It’s been a blast to see the growth we’ve experienced in just the year or so that I’ve been here, and I’m genuinely excited to continue to help be the reason we reach our goal!"