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A Trade Study of Lunar Power Plant Technology

Project by Polygence alum Yashas

A Trade Study of Lunar Power Plant Technology

Project's result

Research Paper, Symposium Presentation, Research Archive of Rising Scholars

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Summary

With future plans to return to the Moon in the next few years over the course of the NASA Artemis missions, as well as other government and private ventures, it is critical to assess different power sources for a permanent lunar base. Here, we detail a power source with the lowest upfront and per-unit cost while remaining safe and reliable, assuming a lunar base on the rim of the Shackleton Crater on the South Pole, with a capacity of 8 astronauts, and a mission duration of ten years. Here, power sources are analytically assessed by assigning rankings for each power source based on these metrics, a common technique referred to as a design matrix. Ranked on a 0 to 10 scale for each power source, the five metrics used in this paper are: (1) total cost, (2) safety, (3) reliability, (4) technological readiness, and (5) miscellaneous factors like scalability. Analyzed power sources include conventional options such as solar panels with batteries or a nuclear fission reactor, developing solutions such as nuclear fusion, and unorthodox solutions such as laser beaming. Using this design matrix, mirrors in high, polar lunar orbit constantly reflecting sunlight onto a collector system below was found to be the best solution out of the analyzed power sources.

Cody

Cody

Polygence mentor

PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate

Subjects

Computer Science, Physics, Engineering

Expertise

Astrodynamics, orbital mechanics, spacecraft trajectory design and navigation, Aerospace Engineering, and robotics

Yashas

Yashas

Student

High school student with a strong passion for physics, chemistry, and engineering. My goal is to apply my interdisciplinary skills to solve real-world engineering problems and make a positive impact on as many people as possible.

Graduation Year

2025

Project review

“I like the feedback, ability to reschedule, the UCI GATI opportunity, and chat, but I wish I wasn't forced to fill out a survey before joining the next class”

About my mentor

“He would answer my questions promptly in the chat”