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Australian science agency opens testing facility for lunar rovers

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Canberra, Dec 2 (IANS) Australia’s national science agency has opened a purpose-built facility to test technology before it is sent to the Moon.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) on Thursday opened the In-situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU) Facility in Brisbane.

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The facility provides a Moon-like environment to test rovers and related equipment before it is sent into space, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Our ability to simulate the lunar terrain at this scale is an exciting advancement for the development of space technology in Australia,” CSIRO Space Programme Director Kimberley Clayfield said in a media release.

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“This facility is the latest example of our commitment to stimulating innovation, supporting industry and solving the greatest challenges through space science, technology and exploration.

“We’re looking forward to working with researchers and businesses from across the space sector to test their technology and systems for future space missions.”

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The ISRU Facility, which is located at CSIRO’s Queensland Center for Advanced Technologies, contains a sealed dust area to simulate various types of Moon dust, smaller pits for small-scale tests and a mission control room to monitor rovers and payloads.

The Australian Space Agency (ASA) in October signed a landmark deal with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the US to send an Australian-built rover to the Moon for the first time as early as 2026.

ISRU Project Leader Jonathon Ralston said the new facility would be key to solving major challenges for the rover.

“The challenge is the Moon dust is powdery, sharp and electrostatically charged so it sticks to everything and has the potential to damage the technology sent to investigate it,” he said.

“Our facility offers technology developers the opportunity to test their equipment closer to home, in a safe environment to find solutions to this dusty problem.”



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