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Maunakea Skies Talk: Using Basalt to Learn How to Build on Other Planets

Posted August 13, 2017, 01:15 PM HST

‘Imiloa’s Maunakea Skies talk this month will feature Rodrigo Romo, program manager at the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES), on Friday, Aug. 18, at 7 p.m.

Romo will present “Utilizing Hawaiian Basalt to Learn How to Build on Other Planets.”

If we are going to build a base on another planet or moon, we will need to learn how to utilize available resources as construction materials.

Some of these materials are found right here on Hawai‘i Island, including Hawaiian basalt.

Basalt is a volcanic rock formed from the rapid cooling of basaltic lava. Volcanoes in Hawai‘i primarily erupt basalt and have a relatively high fluidity that favors the formation of lava flows.

“We have conducted chemical analysis on the composition of Hawaiian basalt using samples collected at various locations on Hawai‘i Island,” said Romo. “We’ve found that some of these samples closely resemble lunar regolith (fine dust) in composition. This makes our local basalt an ideal lunar simulant, and we are using it to research how we can harness the basalt found on the moon as a construction material.”

PISCES has been involved in researching various methods through which Hawaiian basalt can be utilized to produce quality construction materials. This work has been done in collaboration with NASA and Honeybee Robotics, and has led to various research proposals that are currently being evaluated.


In his talk, Romo will present an update of the work being done in this field of study.

Romo originates from Guadalajara, Mexico, where he obtained his degree in chemical engineering. He joined PISCES in 2014 as a project manager and has over 25 years of experience in project management. He has been interested in space exploration and the development of sustainable materials ever since his experience as a crewmember during Biosphere 2’s second manned mission in the Arizona desert in 1994.

Maunakea Skies presentations are held on the third Friday of each month. General admission tickets are $10;$8 for members (member level discounts apply). Pre-purchase tickets at ‘Imiloa’s front desk or by phone at (808) 932-8901.

‘Imiloa is located at 600 ‘Imiloa Place in Hilo, off of Komohana and Nowelo Streets at the University of Hawai‘i Hilo Science and Technology Park.

For more information, visit www.ImiloaHawaii.org or call (808) 932-8901.


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