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Students over the moon with success of virtual lunar base

The moon in space

Engineering students who created a virtual base on the moon were selected as one of just three teams to present their project to the Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA).

The seven strong Powerhab team represented the University and Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering as the only British team in the IGLUNA 2020 campaign.

Space habitat

The global contest involved 16 student teams from across Europe, and one from the USA who were tasked with developing a ‘space habitat’ capable of sustaining life in the harsh lunar environment, with its all power needs.

The project aimed to create concepts and then design and manufacture prototypes for a future ESA lunar base. Space agencies around the world are considering the concept of a lunar base as a possible next step in human space exploration.

Students standing smiling

The Strathclyde team’s work focused on the power systems of the base and how to provide enough to facilitate life support systems and scientific research on their base at the Moon’s South Pole.

Their ideas included a small-scale prototype of a solar powered satellite’s WPT system and a battery management system, designed to play a vital role in keeping any astronaut safe in the moon base by providing accurate voltage, current, power and temperature readings for their habitat.

The physical field campaign was due to take place in Lucerne, Switzerland but after it was cancelled due to the pandemic, an online event was created to showcase each team's work. 

Top three

A special prize was created to reward the top three teams the opportunity to present to ESA Director-General Jan Wörner and Johann Richard of the Swiss Space Office, which included Strathclyde.

Strathclyde team leader and MAE 2020 graduate, Drew Gillespie, said:

Taking part in the IGLUNA project was incredibly exciting experience. I’m glad we managed to work through the challenges brought on by lockdown, and produce a flawless project show which we are all extremely proud of.

“To be recognised as one of the top three teams was unbelievable and the honour of presenting our project to ESA Director-General Jan Wörner was one which I'm sure we will never forget.

“I don't think we could've pulled it off without the support from our supervisors, the Swiss Space Center and our sponsor RS Components, as well as everyone who donated to our crowdfunding campaign - we want to say a massive thank you to them all."

Dr Andrew Wilson from Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering who supervised the students, said: “This great and very well deserved achievement is testimony to the team's tremendous work over the past year in extremely challenging circumstances, and evidences the calibre of graduates that the University produces.”