Graphene is heading to space and the moon

Graphene goes to space and the moon

Moon rover Rashid. Credit: Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre

Graphene Flagship Partners The University of Cambridge (UK) and Université Libre de Brussels (ULB, Belgium) paired with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC, UAE), and the European Space Agency (ESA) to test graphene on the moon. This joint effort witnesses the participation of many international partners, such as Airbus Defense and Space, Khalifa University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Technical University of Dortmund, University of Oslo, and Tohoku University.

The Rashid rover is scheduled to launch on December 1, 2022 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and will land on a geologically rich and, until now, only remotely explored region on the near side of the Moon — the side that always faces Earth. During one lunar day, which is approximately equal to 14 Earth days, Rashid will move in The surface of the moon Investigate interesting geological features.

The Rosetta Wheels rover will be used for repeated exposure of different materials to the lunar surface. As part of the material adhesion and corrosion detection experiment, GrapheneThe composite materials will be used on the rover’s wheels to understand whether they can protect the spacecraft against Harsh conditions on the moon, especially against regolith (also known as “moon dust”).

Regolith consists of very sharp, small, and sticky grains, and since the Apollo missions, it has been one of the biggest challenges lunar missions have had to overcome. Regolith is responsible for mechanical and electrical damage to equipment, and therefore also dangerous for astronauts. It clogs spacesuit joints, clouds visors, corrodes spacesuits and protective layers, and poses a potential health hazard.

University of Cambridge researchers from the Cambridge Graphene Center have produced graphene/polyether ether ketone (PEEK) composites. The interaction of these compounds with lunar regolith (soil) will be investigated. The samples will be monitored via an optical camera, which will record footage throughout the mission. ULB researchers will gather information during the mission and suggest modifications to the rover’s trajectory and orientation. The obtained images will be used to study the effects of the lunar environment and abrasive stresses on the samples.

This moon mission comes shortly after the European Space Agency announced its class of 2022 astronauts, including Graphene Flagship’s Megan Christian, Graphene Flagship Partner Research Fellow at the Institute for Microelectronics and Micro Systems (IMM) at the National Research Council of Italy.

“The ability to follow the progress of the lunar rover in real time will enable us to track how the lunar environment affects different types of graphene and polymer composites, allowing us to infer which ones are most resilient under these conditions. This will advance our understanding of how graphene-based composites can be used to build future lunar surface ships,” says Sarah Al-Moaini, science team leader at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center, who designed the Rashid Communications System.

Graphene goes to space and the moon

Close-up of one of the wheels of the Rosetta Moon spacecraft with polymer samples with and without graphene. Credit: Laura Borella

New materials such as graphene have the potential to be game-changing outer space exploration. In combination with the resources available on the Moon, advanced materials will enable radiation protection, electronic shielding, and mechanical resistance to the harshness of the Moon’s environment. The Rashid rover will be the first opportunity to collect data on the behavior of graphene composites within the lunar environment,” says Graphene Pioneering Space Champion Carlo Iorio, of LB.

Before the moon mission, a variety of inks containing graphene and related materials, such as conductive graphene, insulating hexagonal boron nitride and graphene oxide, and semiconducting molybdenum disulfide, prepared by the University of Cambridge and ULB in the Science Experiment MAterials rocket mission were also tested. 15 (MASER 15) successfully launched on November 23, 2022 from the Esrange Space Center in Sweden.

This experiment, called ARLES-2 (Advanced Research on Liquid Evaporation in Space) and supported by the European Space Agency and the United Kingdom (ESA, UKSA) included contributions from Graphene Flagship Partners University of Cambridge (UK), University of Pisa (Italy) and Trinity. Dublin College (Ireland), with many international collaborators, including Aix-Marseille University (France), Technische Universität Darmstadt (Germany), York University (Canada), University of Liège (Belgium), Edinburgh and Loughborough University.

This experiment will provide new information about printing GMR inks in weightless conditions, contributing to the development of new addictive fabrication procedures in space such as 3D printing. These procedures are fundamental to space exploration, as replacement components are often needed, and they can be made from functional inks.

Graphene goes to space and the moon

Moon rover Rashid. Credit: Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre

“Our experiments with graphene and the deposition of related materials in microgravity pave the way for addictive fabrication in space. Studying the interaction of lunar regolith with graphene composites will address some of the major challenges posed by the harsh lunar environment,” says Yarjan Abdel Samad, of the Cambridge and Khalifa Universities. They prepared the samples and coordinated the interactions with the UAE.

“The Graphene Pilot Ship is leading the investigation of Graphene and Related Materials (GRMs) for space applications. In November 2022, the first member of the Graphene Pilot Ship is assigned to the ESA astronaut class. We have seen the launch of a sounding rocket to test it. Print a variety of mechanisms Reprocessing of graphene in zero-gravity conditions, and the launch of a spacecraft to the lunar surface that will test the interaction of graphene-based composites with the lunar surface.

Graphene goes to space and the moon

Launch of the MASER 15 missile. Credit: Jean-Charles Dupin

“Composites, coatings and foams based on waste reconstruction mechanisms have been at the core of Pioneer Graphene’s investigations since its inception. Hence it is quite clear that, ahead of Pioneer’s tenth anniversary, these innovative materials are now being tested on the surface of the Moon. This is the right time, given To the ongoing efforts to return astronauts to the Moon, with the goal of building lunar settlements.

“When combined with polymers, GRMs can model the mechanical, thermal and electrical properties of host matrices. These pioneering experiments can pave the way for widespread adoption of GRM-enhanced materials.” space explorationsays Andrea Ferrari, science and technology officer and chair of the Graphene Pioneering Management Committee.

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