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Harnessing Lunar Resources: The SoMo Project's Innovative Approach to Power Space Missions

Researchers at TU Berlin and JPM Silicon GmbH are developing a process to create solar cells from lunar regolith, aiming to establish a self-sufficient power supply on a lunar base.

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Wojciech Zylm
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Harnessing Lunar Resources: The SoMo Project's Innovative Approach to Power Space Missions

In a pioneering effort to harness the power of lunar resources, researchers from the Chair of Space Technology at TU Berlin, in conjunction with JPM Silicon GmbH, are creating a cutting-edge manufacturing process for solar cells using lunar regolith. This project, monikered "SoMo", is a significant stride towards establishing a self-sufficient power supply on a future lunar base. It is funded by the German Space Agency at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), under the aegis of the "Research and Exploration" program supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action.

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The Lunar Powerhouse

The crux of the SoMo project is in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) technologies. These focus on producing essential materials and resources from lunar dust and sunlight. This approach significantly diminishes the need for costly transportation of materials from Earth to the Moon. The current cost of transportation is a staggering one million euros per kilogram, a figure that the SoMo project aims to reduce.

Turning Dust into Energy

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SoMo project is planning to leverage lunar regolith and UV light to create glass substrates and silicon cells, thereby forming functional solar panels on the Moon. Simulants of lunar soil developed by the TU Berlin team are used to produce the glass required for solar cell manufacturing. This innovative process is not just about creating power; it's about creating a sustainable, renewable source of energy that can power lunar missions in the long term.

A Sustainable Future for Space Exploration

This project is a testament to the endless possibilities of space exploration, and how sustainability can play a key role in it. By using lunar resources to create solar cells, the SoMo project is setting a precedent for how future space missions, including those to Mars, can be powered. The future of space exploration is not just about reaching new frontiers, but doing so in a way that is sustainable, cost-effective, and efficient.

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