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Hawaii Space Partnership Opens Doors For Mines Students

The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) is dedicated to developing technologies that will enable humans to sustain life on another planet. The organization plans to build a simulated lunar outpost on the Big Island of Hawai`i, where the volcanic ash and rock surface resemble the surface of the moon.
by Staff Writers
Golden CO (SPX) Mar 31, 2008
Students at Colorado School of Mines and the University of Hawai`i at Hilo will work together on space research at both campuses and at a new international space research center on the Big Island of Hawai`i, according to a Memorandum of Understanding to be signed April 4 in Golden.

Mines President Bill Scoggins and University of Hawai`i at Hilo Chancellor Rose Tseng will sign the agreement establishing a partnership between the two schools on April 4 at 2:30 p.m. at the Geology Museum on the Mines campus. The agreement will greatly expand space research opportunities for faculty, undergraduate and graduate students at both schools.

Mines is home to the Center for Space Resources, which focuses on using the natural resources of space, called in situ resource utilization, to enable future astronauts to survive on the moon and beyond. The University of Hawai`i at Hilo is home to the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES), which was established and initially funded by the Hawai`i state legislature in 2007.

PISCES is dedicated to developing technologies that will enable humans to sustain life on another planet. The organization plans to build a simulated lunar outpost on the Big Island of Hawai`i, where the volcanic ash and rock surface resemble the surface of the moon.

The center will house research labs for space agencies, commercial partners and entrepreneurs around the world who plan space mission involvement. PISCES has obtained research agreements with NASA in the areas of rover technology and in situ resource utilization. The center also expects to attract commercial partners who can benefit from space research and technology.

PISCES is led by Frank Schowengerdt, former director of NASA's Research Partnership Centers, and Robert Fox, head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Hilo. Schowengerdt also established and served as director of the Mines space center.

"Because of the lunar-like surface at the proposed PISCES research center in Hawai`i, our work in using space resources to sustain life on the moon will play a significant role in future space exploration," said Schowengerdt. "We are planning robust programs in robotics, solar energy, in situ resource utilization and education," he said.

"Almost anything you would do at an outpost in space will be an opportunity for research and development at PISCES, and we need good students who want to pursue space science to be a part of this work," he said.

Angel Abbud-Madrid, director of the Mines Center for Space Resources, said the partnership is perfect for their students, who are already involved in extensive research on how to survive on the moon and Mars. The center works with Lockheed Martin on equipment designed to produce oxygen from lunar rocks and soil. Mines students also have been involved in developing a special membrane that will one day help astronauts make methane fuel on Mars for their return flight to Earth.

"The number of Hawai`i students interested in space exploration is rapidly growing," said Hilo Chancellor Rose Tseng. "We welcome the opportunity to be a part of information and technology exchanges like this one."

Founded in 1874, Colorado School of Mines was established to serve the needs of the local mining industry. Today, the School has an international reputation for excellence in both engineering education and the applied sciences with special expertise in the development and stewardship of the Earth's resources.

related report
Colorado space partnership to benefit UH Hilo students
Students at the University of Hawaii at Hilo and the Colorado School of Mines, located in Golden, Colorado, will work together on space research at both campuses and at the new space research center on Hawai`i, called Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES), according to a Memorandum of Understanding to be signed April 4, 2008 in Colorado.

UH Hilo Chancellor Rose Tseng and School of Mines President Bill Scoggins will sign the agreement establishing a partnership between the two schools, which will greatly expand space research opportunities for faculty, undergraduate and graduate students at both schools.

UH Hilo is home to PISCES, which is dedicated to developing technologies that will enable humans to sustain life on another planet. Colorado School of Mines is home to the Center for Space Resources, which focuses on using the natural resources of space, also called in situ resource utilization, to make air and water, and to meet all human needs for survival on the moon and beyond.

PISCES was established and partially funded by the Hawai`i State Legislature in 2007. The organization is working with community and cultural leaders and educators to build on the Hawaiian history of voyaging in the preparation of future voyages into space. The space center plans to build a simulated lunar outpost on the Big Island where the ash and rock surface resembles the surface of the moon.

Its labs will serve space agencies, commercial partners and entrepreneurs from the Pacific Rim and around the world that plan space mission involvement. PISCES has obtained research agreements with NASA in the areas of rover testing and in situ resource utilization.

PISCES was conceived by the Japan-U.S. Science, Technology and Space Applications Program under the auspices of the State of Hawai`i. The new center is led by Dr. Frank Schowengerdt, former director of the NASA Research Partnership Centers and professor of physics at UH Hilo, and by Dr. Robert Fox, chair of the department of physics and astronomy at UH Hilo. A cultural advisory committee made up of native Hawaiians and representatives of all facets of the community helps guide PISCES decision-making.

"We are planning robust research programs in robotics, solar energy, in situ resource utilization, and education," said Schowengerdt. "Almost anything you would do at an outpost in space will be an opportunity for research and development at PISCES, and we need good students who want to pursue space science to be a part of this work."

Dr. Angel Abbud-Madrid, director of the Colorado School of Mines Center for Space Resources, said the partnership is perfect for their students, who are already involved in research on how to survive on the moon and Mars. Students work with Lockheed Martin on equipment designed to produce oxygen from the lunar rocks and soil. Mines students also have been involved in developing a special membrane that will one day help astronauts make methane fuel on Mars for their return flight to Earth.

"The number of Hawai`i students interested in space exploration is rapidly growing," said Tseng. "We welcome the opportunity to be a part of information and education exchanges like this one.

"This partnership is a natural extension of our space-related initiatives that are made possible by the Big Island's unique living, learning laboratory," she added. "From the world's most important collection of telescopes atop Mauna Kea, to our `Imiloa Astronomy Center, to PISCES, UH Hilo has taken its place on the cutting edge in this exciting field."

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Kennedy Space Center FL (SPX) Mar 31, 2008
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