Did you know that a replica of the surface of the moon has been built at a Pullenvale facility to help the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation test space exploration equipment in a lunar environment?
Dubbed the In-situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU) Facility, the Pullenvale site within the Queensland Centre for Advanced Technologies has a sealed dust area with fabricated moon dust, pits for smaller-scale tests, and a mission control room where rovers, payloads, and other related equipment may be remotely controlled.
CSIRO Space Program Director Dr Kimberley Clayfield said that the Pullenvale facility is “the latest example of our commitment to stimulating innovation, supporting industry and solving the greatest challenges through space science, technology, and exploration.”
The Australian national science agency designed the specialised simulator to help scientists test equipment and machines in the moon-like environment to see how these will fare in future lunar missions.
CSIRO ISRU Project Leader Dr Jonathon Ralston said that since the moon’s actual surface has sharp, powdery, and electrostatically-charged dust that “sticks to everything,” this simulator will help the experts come up with the right solutions.
“Our facility offers technology developers the opportunity to test their equipment closer to home, in a safe environment to find solutions to this dusty problem,” Dr Ralston said.
“Our ability to simulate the lunar terrain at this scale is an exciting advancement for the development of space technology in Australia,” Dr Clayfield said.
“We’re looking forward to working with researchers and businesses from across the space sector to test their technology and systems for future space missions.”
The Queensland Centre for Advanced Technologies is also the home of the CSIRO’s robotics team.
Follow updates about the CSIRO’s space program on the official site.