Canadian Space Agency

Aqualunar Challenge

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Mission Scenario

Mission Scenario

The Mission Scenario describes the long-term use case that you will be competing for to deliver the best technology to.

During the Challenge, applicants won’t be going to the Moon: you will be creating concept design (in Stage 1) a proof of concept (in Stage 2), then prototypes (Stage 3) of water purification technologies.

We understand that, during the Challenge, applicants will not develop a technology that is ready to meet all of these constraints. But we are looking for your concept design, and subsequent proof of concept and prototype to take these objectives into account as much as possible.

The Mission Scenario outlines information about the hypothetical environment in which your technology would operate on the Moon. It also outlines the circumstances leading to the acquisition of the water sample you need to purify and what it is expected to contain. The scenario lists environmental factors and technology specifications, which act as constraints and decision points for you to base your design on.

The Mission Scenario is based on a real-world mission on the lunar surface and represents the ultimate goal for Moon water purification technologies. You won’t be expected to have all the assumptions tested but you should consider the implications of these assumptions and factor these into your design.

Mission Scenario

Your team’s technology has been ferried to the Moon onboard an uncrewed spacecraft and has touched down near the rim of Shackleton Crater, near the Lunar South Pole.

Inside the crater, buried in the regolith (soil) is ice.

There’s a large regolith mining operation taking place in the permanently shadowed area of the Shackleton Crater. A separate subsystem is then doing an initial processing of the regolith, leaving dirty ice.

This is primarily frozen H2O but is also contains varying levels of Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S); Ammonia (NH3); Carbon Monoxide (CO); Ethylene (C2H4); Sulfur Dioxide (SO2); Methanol (CH3OH); and Methane (CH4) and a small amount of solid regolith particles left over in it.

You can assume that you are located next to this processing operation, or a short distance away from a permanently shadowed area if your process requires it.

Your technology must take this dirty ice and reliably produce at least one litre per hour of clean drinking water.

The lunar conditions you need to take into account include:

  • The low and fluctuating temperatures present in your chosen location (within or outside the Shackleton Crater).
  • The presence of highly abrasive regolith particles.
  • The low gravity on the Moon (1/6th of Earth gravity).
  • The lack of any atmospheric pressure.

In addition, you need to take into account the technical constraints of a lunar lander, including:

  • Minimizing power consumption.
  • Minimizing physical dimensions.
  • Minimizing mass.
  • Design for robustness to G forces in launch and landing.
  • Robustness to radiation and solar wind.
  • There will be no human intervention available to monitor, service or operate this technology.

Challenge details

Who can apply?

Eligible Applicants to the challenge include the following:

  • Businesses or other for-profit organizations in Canada;
  • Not-for-profit organizations in Canada;
  • Indigenous organizations and groups located in Canada;
  • Post-secondary/academic institutions located in Canada; and
  • Individuals or groups of individuals based in Canada.

Individuals or groups of individuals are encouraged to submit an application to the challenge, but in order to be eligible to receive prizes, they will be required to establish a Canadian legal entity (such as a corporation or a not-for-profit organization) capable of entering into binding agreements in Canada.

Key Dates

Stage 1

  • Concept Design due April 8th, 2024
  • Up to 8 Semi-Finalists Announced: Summer 2024

Stage 2

  • Begins June 2024
  • Final Reports and virtual demonstration videos due January 2025
  • Up to 4 Finalists Announced: Spring 2025

Stage 3

  • Begins Spring 2025
  • Applications due: January 2026

Canadian Grand Prize Winner

  • Announced in Spring 2026