UK Space Agency Starts Aqualunar Challenge To Purify Lunar Water

18th Jan 2024
UK Space Agency Starts Aqualunar Challenge To Purify Lunar Water

Challenge Works and the UK Space Agency have introduced the £1.2 million Aqualunar Challenge in collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency and Impact Canada. This international challenge prize aims to encourage the development of innovative technologies for enabling human habitation on the Moon. The challenge focuses on designing solutions to purify water found beneath the lunar surface.

Since 2020, the UK has participated in the Artemis Accords, joining forces with NASA and partner space agencies globally. These Accords, crafted by the US in collaboration with the UK, Canada, and other spacefaring nations such as Japan, Australia, Italy, and the UAE, establish a set of principles. These principles aim to foster a collective understanding of safe operations, responsible utilization of space resources, minimization of space debris, and the collaborative sharing of scientific data.

Opinium Polling Suggests Research Has Public Backing

The findings from a survey conducted by Opinium, polling 2,000 adults in the UK, reveal that 62% of respondents believe technologies created for space exploration should also find applications on Earth. Additionally, over half (51%) believe that technologies developed for the Moon should prioritize sustainability.

86% of those surveyed indicated their interest in seeing technologies developed for purifying lunar water adapted for use on Earth. The major areas to be addressed involved removing microplastics from the oceans and the possibility of providing clean drinking water to areas prone to drought. Overall, the studies suggest a strong desire to help use the knowledge gained from space exploration.

The research underscores a strong endorsement for lunar sustainability, with 78% of respondents emphasizing the importance of responsible use of the Moon’s resources. Additionally, over three-quarters (76%) believe that lunar exploration should aim to minimize any adverse impact on the lunar environment.

Regarding lunar water and global cooperation, an overwhelming 79% of respondents believe that no single country should have exclusive rights to it. Furthermore, over two-thirds (68%) express the opinion that the exploration and settlement of the Moon should be a collaborative international endeavor.

MP Andrew Griffith, Minister for Space at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, said:

“The UK has always been the home of great ideas and by backing UK start-ups to develop innovative technologies, long-term missions on the Moon may be possible. The Aqualunar Challenge demonstrates our commitment to collaborating on space innovation, unlocking commercial opportunities, supporting exploration of the Moon and building on our important relationship with Canada.”

How UK-Led Teams Can Enter

In June 2024, the Aqualunar Challenge is set to grant seed funding of £30,000 to the ten most promising ideas led by teams in the UK to facilitate the development of their innovative concepts. By March 2025, three teams will be announced as winners and runners-up, collectively receiving an additional £300,000 to advance their solutions to the next level.  The deadline for all entrants is the 8th of April, 2024.

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