WVU selected to compete in third-straight Moon to Mars Ice and Prospecting Challenge

Stories | WVU Today | West Virginia University

For the third straight year, a team from West Virginia University
will compete in the Moon to Mars Ice and Prospecting Challenge, a special
edition competition under NASA’s Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts –
Academic Linkage brand of competitions. 

Ten university teams were selected for the competition, which
challenges finalists to design and build hardware that can identify, map and
drill through a variety of subsurface layers, then extract water from an ice
block in a simulated off-world test bed. The challenge seeks to advance
critical capabilities needed on the surface of the Moon and Mars.

Looking to build upon its success in the first two
challenges, WVU’s Mountaineer Ice Drilling Automated System – or MIDAS III –
hopes to again find itself in the winner’s circle. MIDAS I finished first in
2017 and MIDAS II finished second in 2018.

“MIDAS II worked well in all aspects during the competition
except for the filtration system, which ultimately led to its inability to
continue,” said team advisor Powsiri
Klinkhachorn, professor of computer science and electrical engineering.
“The team will still use the core concept from last year’s competition and
improve MIDAS II to accommodate additional requirements that the sponsor

According to Klinkhachorn, this year’s teams will have to go
through multiple overburden layers with different hardness. They will also have
to prospect the different layers in addition to extracting water from the ice

The 2019 team will again be led by Bertrand Wieliczko, an
electrical and computer engineering graduate student from Holderness, New
Hampshire. Also returning from last year are Jacob Winokur (aerospace engineering;
Chesapeake, Virginia), Karan Kermit Sah (aerospace engineering, Lexington,
South Carolina), Nathan Owen (mechanical engineering, Fairfax, Virginia), Derek
Roesch (electrical engineering, WVU Honors College; Nazareth,
Pennsylvania). New additions to the team include John Bright (computer and
electrical engineering, Honors College, Butler, Pennsylvania), James Jackman
(computer science, Seabrook, Texas), …

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