Easy-bake asteroids

Leslie Gertsch is baking asteroids in search of an interstellar water source that could one day lead to industrialized space travel. 

20151007LeslieGertschMeteorites0029

Using a vacuum chamber that simulates the conditions of space, Gertsch, an associate professor of geological engineering at Missouri S&T, heats near-Earth objects (NEOs) like asteroids and comets, and then measures and analyzes the gases they release.

“Some NEOs contain up to 22 percent water locked within minerals,” she says. “Our job is to predict how much water we can actually get out of them in space.”

One of the processes, called in-situ resource utilization, involves collecting resources from NEOs, the moon or Mars, and converting them into useful things like spacecraft fuels and propellants, Gertsch says.

The ability to use resources found in outer space could reduce payload needs and boost planetary exploration, Gertsch says. “This work could change the way we view space travel.”

20151007LeslieGertschMeteorites0044

Her work is funded through a $500,000 NASA Early Stage Innovation Research Grant, which supports new technology that addresses high-priority needs for the U.S. space program. Gertsch works on the project with NASA Kennedy Space Center, NASA Glenn Research Center, Colorado School of Mines, the University of Hawaii and Integrated Concurrent Systems Associates Inc.

“This is an interdisciplinary project,” she says. “Our researchers have backgrounds in planetary geology, meteoritics, mineral processing, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, mining engineering and astrophysics, among others.”<

Around the Puck

Seeking TBI therapies

By Delia Croessmann, croessmannd@mst.edu Complications from TBI can be life altering. They include post-traumatic seizures and hydrocephalus, as well as serious cognitive and psychological impairments, and the search for treatments to mitigate these neurodegenerative processes is on.

[Read More...]

Understanding the invisible injury

Students advance traumatic brain injury research By Sarah Potter, sarah.potter@mst.edu “Research is creating new knowledge.”–Neil Armstrong  Research keeps professors on the vanguard of knowledge in their fields and allows students to gain a deeper understanding of their area of study. For students and recent graduates researching traumatic brain injury (TBI) at Missouri S&T, the work […]

[Read More...]

Analyzing small molecules for big results

By Delia Croessmann, croessmannd@mst.edu At only 28 years old, Casey Burton, Chem’13, PhD Chem’17, director of medical research at Phelps Health in Rolla and an adjunct professor of chemistry at Missouri S&T, is poised to become a prodigious bioanalytical researcher.

[Read More...]

To prevent and protect

By Peter Ehrhard, ehrhardp@mst.edu Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are an unfortunate but all too common occurrence during military training and deployment. Because mild TBIs often present no obvious signs of head trauma or facial lacerations, they are the most difficult to diagnose at the time of the injury, and patients often perceive the impact as […]

[Read More...]

Q&A

Toughest class … ever Some of your classes may have been a breeze, but others kept you up at all hours studying, and some of you struggled just to pass. As part of his research for the S&T 150th anniversary history book, Larry Gragg , Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor emeritus of history and political science, asked […]

[Read More...]