The Andy Thomas Centre for Space Resources (ATCSR) is the University of Adelaide’s hub of sustainable planetary resource research and education, building a unique ecosystem for space resources research and commercialisation.
The ATCSR is focused on identifying solutions and developing technologies supporting sustainable, self-suﬃcient resource exploration, extraction, processing and utilisation in extreme environments, on and oﬀ planet Earth.
It is the focal point for the engineering, science and technology elements of ISRU and the supporting supply chain.
Students, researchers and industry partners will also have direct access to the University’s space and resources ecosystem, gaining the opportunity to interact with imbedded industry partners, world leading university research capabilities, and university research collaborators.
This includes University research institutes, centres and schools, such as:
- The Institute for Minerals and Energy Resources, developing new technologies supporting energy production, deep mining and mineral processing
- The Australian Institute for Machine Learning, applying machine learning, artificial intelligence and robotic vision to the next generation of autonomous and remote operations
- The Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing, where future generations of high precision, high sensitivity optical sensors are created
- The Centre for Energy Technology, developing renewable, sustainable and future energy technologies
- The Centre for Materials in Energy and Catalysis where new materials and catalysts are created.
In-Situ Resource Utilisation
Manufacturing and construction in a space environment faces significant technological and operational challenges if it is to be conducted independent of earth resources.
The In-Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU) concept, as pioneered by NASA, addresses the reliance on Earth-based materials for long term space exploration by proposing an oﬀ-world, self-contained resource chain covering the exploration, extraction and utilisation of the resources required for sustained space operations.
This concept leads the way for the construction of habitation modules, industrial facilities, laboratories and transportation solutions utilising oﬀ-planet resources and materials. Success in ISRU operations will be fundamental to successful long-term habitation of other planetary bodies such as the Moon and Mars.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is also advancing this concept as it prepares a lunar surface mission to demonstrate technologies needed to enable ISRU on the Moon. By 2025, the ESA aims to show that water or oxygen production on the Moon is feasible.