Mines students qualify for 2018 NASA Mars Ice Challenge

A student team from Colorado School of Mines has qualified for the finals of the NASA Mars Ice Challenge for the second year in a row.

Team MINERS, short for Martian Ice New-age Extraction and Recovery System, will be one of 10 collegiate teams facing off in the on-site technology demonstration and water extraction competition at NASA Langley Research Center on June 6-8. 

For the competition, student teams design, build and test prototype systems capable of extracting water from simulated Martian subsurface ice. Also qualifying for the finals were teams from Alfred University, Carnegie Mellon University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, Rowan University, University of Tennessee Knoxville, Virginia Tech and West Virginia University.

“After Mines’ strong showing at the NASA Mars Ice Challenge last year, we are extremely excited to be selected a second time to put our new ice-water extraction design to the test at the 2018 competition,” said Angel Abbud-Madrid, director of the Center for Space Resources at Mines and research associate professor in mechanical engineering. 

Eight mechanical engineering students make up Team MINERS: Scott Jarriel, Alex Baker, Brian Coleman, Brandon Do, Colin Young, Robert Ortega, Ryan Hurlburt and Tanner Osiecki.

“We’re building on last year’s design,” said Jarriel, team manager for the senior design project.

In 2017, Mines placed second in the competition and was one of only two teams to successfully collect water

Like their predecessors, Team MINERS will use an auger to drill through the soil, but then they plan to deploy a heat probe to melt the ice and a pump to extract the liquid water. Currently, the team is the midst of testing and prototyping, Baker said, with automating the system posing some of the biggest challenges so far.

“If we send human missions to Mars for research purposes, it’s going to be really helpful to be able to use the resources that are already there, rather than carry every single thing for humans to survive,” Coleman said.

The Mars Ice Challenge is a special edition of NASA’s Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts – Academic Linkage (RASC-AL), a series of university-level engineering design competitions sponsored by NASA and managed by the National Institute of Aerospace to engage students and faculty in real-world aerospace work. 

Mars image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Emilie Rusch, Public Information Specialist, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3361 | erusch@mines.edu
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 | ramirez@mines.edu

About Mines
Colorado School of Mines is a public R1 research university focused on applied science and engineering, producing the talent, knowledge and innovations to serve industry and benefit society – all to create a more prosperous future.