The scientific priorities in ERIS are the ISRU and habitat technologies as well as the associated key technologies of robotics and autonomous systems. This entails the concept of a process chain extending from the extraction of raw materials, through production to the infrastructure and supply necessary for people to survive. However, because of the extreme conditions on the moon, many of the tasks must be performed by robotics and automation. The two complementary competence centres for sustainability and people & society complete the scientific profile of ERIS.
The scientific activities of ERIS comprise seven departments:
The department of natural resources is part of the ISRU technologies focus in ERIS. Technologies are developed here that are necessary for the extraction and processing of raw materials on other planets. Similar to technologies for the extraction of raw material on Earth, this department includes the subject clusters of prospecting and mining, as well as processing and refining. Another task in this area is the development of suitable material that can be used to simulate lunar and Martian regolith.
The production department also belongs to the ISRU technologies centre and includes the subject cluster of construction technology, materials and production technology. Their greatest challenges are the extreme environmental conditions and the restriction to locally available raw materials: liquid water can at best be used in closed rooms with an artificial atmosphere, and all auxiliary materials have to be regenerated and be recycled. At the same time, the products to be produced vary considerably and are predominantly one-off production items.
As part of the focus on habitat technologies, the infrastructure department includes in particular the habitat as a station designed for largely self-sufficient operation. This department also deals with the logistics systems that connect the habitat with the production facilities and landing platforms. Due to the extreme environmental conditions, the security infrastructure also plays a major role, taking into account protection as well as emergency systems and rescue concepts.
In the supply department, which is part of the habitat technologies focus, technologies are developed that are necessary to enable humans to survive off-Earth for extended periods of time. These include, in particular, the life support systems – circulatory systems that ensure the supply of breathing air, drinking water and food as well as the temperature control of the room air – but also energy systems. Plants and microorganisms are also said to produce other materials and substances in addition to food.
Center of Competency for Sustainability
The task of the Competence Centre for Sustainability is to build up technical expertise and methodical competence for sustainability assessment and sustainability management, with a focus on resource efficiency and circular economy, cost-effectiveness, and environmental and health compatibility. While careful and sustainable use of resources is essential on Earth, on other planets, however, it is an immediate prerequisite for being able to survive there at all.
Center of Competency for Robotics and IT
Robotic systems have always been a key technology for space applications. The Competence Centre for Robotics and IT will promote these for the technologies developed in ERIS. This also requires new developments in the field of communication, sensor technology, simulation and artificial intelligence. The systems must be efficient, resource-saving and yet robust. Because both computing and data transmission capacity are severely limited off-Earth.
Center of Competency for Humans and Society
The focus of the scientific profile of ERIS is on the development of technologies and technical systems. However, technologies are always designed for human use and are embedded in a social context. The Competence Centre Man and Society therefore deals with selected questions of ethics, law, politics and economy, as well as with psychological and social science aspects