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Cal Poly students selected to help NASA find ways to drill for water on Mars, the Moon

Posted at 12:48 PM, Jan 10, 2020

NASA researchers have selected a group of five Cal Poly mechanical engineering students to help the space agency discover ways to drill for water on Mars and the Moon.

The Moon to Mars Ice & Prospecting Challenge, the program in which the Cal Poly team will participate, calls for students to find ways to extract water from lunar and Martian ice to prolong space missions, according to an email from Cal Poly media relations director Matt Lazier.

In the email, Lazier says the space agency selected students from Cal Poly and nine other universities, including the University of Southern California, Texas A&M University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"We paid for our success in sleep, but it was worth it, and we are excited to continue the grind," said Alex Krenitsky, one of the Cal Poly students helping NASA in this project.

Krenitsky will work alongside students Chris Boone, Aaron Erickson, Ryan Locatelli and Westin McHaney, as well as NASA and industry researchers, said Lazier.

The Cal Poly team's faculty adviser Peter Schuster says NASA engineers are working to return astronauts to the Moon and Mars by the year 2024.

"It is an amazing opportunity to be able to work on real NASA challenges and interact with their engineers," Schuster said.

According to Lazier's email, the team of Cal Poly students started working on their project in early October. To participate in the competition, the group submitted an eight-page report summarizing their project: Sub-lunar Tap-Yielding eXplorer (STYX).

NASA is asking the student teams to design systems that can drill through a variety of unknown layers made up of dirt, rock, clay and concrete that simulate lunar and/or Martian terrain; find solid ice frozen beneath these layers and determine how to extract water from the ice and other functions.