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Space Master students discover the lunar lab

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Published on Thursday, 10 October 2019

On 26 September 2019, the first cohort of students from the Interdisciplinary Space Master gathered on the Kirchberg campus for a networking event during which they had the opportunity to learn more about a new teaching and learning laboratory at the University of Luxembourg: the Space Robotics Lunar Laboratory.

New students, professors, partners and sponsors were welcomed by Prof. Tonie van Dam, course director of the Interdisciplinary Space Master (ISM), who was very pleased to see the start of the programme with 12 students coming from around the world. “After several months of hard work together with our partners, we are now very proud to launch this innovative programme which will generate a talent pool of highly skilled engineers and innovative entrepreneurs”.

Bob Lamboray and Gary Martin, Policy Officer and Senior Advisor at the Luxembourg Space Agency (LSA) respectively, presented the SpaceResources.lu initiative launched in February 2016 in order to position Luxembourg as a pioneer in the exploration and utilisation of space resources. “The Interdisciplinary Space Master is an important pillar of this initiative. Indeed, this Master will foster connections between academia and space industry by providing high-level skills required by the Luxembourg space industry sector.”

In addition, Olivier Zephir, Technoport Project Manager, encouraged students to participate in the Space Hackathon, which will take place in late November. Space start-ups in Luxembourg will provide research challenges for the teams of students to tackle over 24 hours. 

Miguel Olivares Mendez, research scientist at the University of Luxembourg and Philippe Ludivig, Doctoral candidate at the University of Luxembourg and Rover Navigation Engineer at iSpace, demonstrated the new lunar laboratory equipped with sand similar in content to what is actually on the Moon. Miguel explained the main goals of this new facility: ”Students and researchers will have access to this new lab which simulates the moon’s surface in order to work and test autonomous navigation”. Then Philippe demonstrated the capabilities of one of their space exploration vehicles in the dark lunar environment. “Equipped with four wheels, 360° high-definition video and photo, the rover is able to traverse difficult surfaces, conduct detailed terrain mapping and carry customer payloads to the lunar surface”.

After the talks and demonstrations, the students had the opportunity to exchange with their professors, representatives from academia, government and industry over a barbecue. Regular and informal events like this are important to the success of the ISM as they will introduce the students to industry leaders who may be their employers in the future.