Helping NASA Put Astronauts on Mars

Helping NASA Put Astronauts on Mars

NASA and Caterpillar. Partnering to enable the future.

 

Astronauts will set foot on the red planet by the 2030's. With NASA, we have been working to bring this vision to reality. In fact, our partnership with NASA goes all the way back to the Apollo program in 1969, when Cat® generators powered the communications systems between the Apollo 11 spacecraft and NASA tracking stations all around the world.

This was just the beginning.

Since then, we’ve been working together to develop technologies that not only push the Mars vision closer to reality, but also benefit our customers here on earth. Remote sensing and controls originally designed for work on Mars have been adapted for machines on earth. Automation and tele-operational technology that was developed by the partnership is coming to life on worksites all over the world.

Most recently, NASA and Caterpillar engineers came together to answer a series of questions that hold the key to helping astronauts live on Mars.

What kind of shelters can we build to keep astronauts safe on Mars? How will they build these structures? What other applications are there for these structures here on earth now and in the future? How could they access resources to sustain human life? How could the same technology be used to tackle global shifts like the worldwide increase in population and the subsequent increase in demand for a higher standard of living?

The answers come from looking at existing technologies like 3-D printing and autonomous controls and exploring new and innovative applications for them. For example, Caterpillar is helping NASA develop rovers that may be directed by operators on earth, and 3-D printers that can turn the raw material on the surface of Mars into habitats for astronauts. The 3-D printing technology could even be applied to building homes here on earth.

Looking even further ahead, imagine robots working to extract water and the base elements of oxygen from the surface of Mars one full year before astronauts arrive. Imagine machines that are controlled from 140 million miles away. Imagine humans building a home away from home, right on the surface of Mars.

These visions have driven this partnership forward not only in terms of technological advancement, but in the many new ways we can help our customers do work faster, safer and more efficiently.

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