Lunar Habitat Assembed at UMaine 

Faculty and students at the University of Maine have teamed up with NASA on quite a project.The results could determine if we make it to Mars and beyond.Meghan Hayward has the story.The world’s first inflatable lunar habitat was assembled at the University of Maine campus last Fall.It will be a test site for NASA as it prepares for voyages to the moon, Mars and Venus.”They can basically store this in a small volume, very low rate and low cost. But of course with this opportunity comes challenges. How you’re going to monitor an inflatable structure for safety of astronauts.’The habitat is a 42 foot by 10 foot circular inflatable structure.It will be a blue print for a habitat for use on future NASA missions, expected by 2030.”Our role is to basically instrument this structure with wireless sensors.”The wireless sensors will be embedded in a layer of its fabric walls to monitor the structural integrity, micro-meteroid impacts and internal environmental conditions.UMaine faculty and students are also working on the project.”I think it not only excites the students but also gives them the opportunity to educate in real world problems.”The folks with NASA are pleased with the work being done.”They’ve been exciting to work with. The students love Ali and follow him. He can ask them to do almost anything and they’d do it. We really appreciate not only their skill, but their willingness to participate.”Funding for the project includes more than two million dollars from NASA and another $2.2 million from the Maine Technology Institute.