Venezuelan-led team wins important NASA competition

Caracas.- At just 20 years old, the name of Luis Pabón Madrid, a third-year Venezuelan student at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech), is already in NASA books.

Along with a team of 15 other CalTech students, Pabón Madrid helped lead the development of a proposal to overcome one of the great challenges of the future US expedition to the Moon, highlights La Voz de América.

“Developing technologies that contribute to the expansion of the human frontier is a dream come true,” he excitedly told the Voice of America.

Four months of intense work, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, allowed this young Venezuelan and his teammates to develop the proposal that was selected as one of the seven winners of NASA’s “BIG Idea Challenge”, with which they seek neutralize lunar dust, potentially toxic and highly abrasive.

“And when this dust starts to float, the astronaut can inhale it and it can insert into the lungs and cause things like sarcoidosis. So, we want to keep the habitat clean, ”explained the young engineering student.

“The proposal that we present to NASA, basically, expands a technology that already exists. They are called ‘electrodynamic shields’. It can be used in the lunar module to remove all the dust when the astronaut changes his suit or takes off his helmet or visor, ”he explained.

Now, the US space agency finances the construction of the panels designed by CalTech students, as part of the second phase of the challenge, which is part of the Artemis Project, which seeks to send humans to the moon in 2024.

“Moondust affects everything we do on the Moon, so we need many strategies to reduce or prevent its abrasive effects. These innovative student concepts could help solve some of NASA’s most pressing moondust problems.” said Niki Werkheiser, executive of NASA’s Game Changing Development program within the Space Technology Mission Directorate.

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