ISU Acting as a Catalyst for MSS Year B Xiaochen Zhang

Focusing on Master of Space Studies’ Year B: one of the MSS year B students, Ms. Xiaochen Zhang, reports back on her experience at ISU: “When I started MSS Year A in 2016, I wasn’t sure about what I wanted to do in the space sector.”

“But that didn’t last long – my individual project (IPR) on selecting optimal locations for future lunar bases fascinated me. Having specialized in geology for my undergraduate degree, I was particularly interested in how we could achieve in-situ resource utilization (ISRU), to allow us to retrieve essential materials directly from lunar soil, for life-support and other lunar surface activities.

Lunar and terrestrial soils have drastic differences. Since there isn’t enough real lunar soil returned to Earth to test ISRU technologies, several countries have developed artificial lunar soils, often referred as “simulant”. My thesis goal is to compare a selection of lunar soil simulants produced in different countries, provide recommendations for improvements, and link the results to my IPR on selecting lunar base locations.

I am completing this project back in Canada at the University of Western Ontario as my host institution. The Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration here is one of the largest interdisciplinary programs dedicated to space studies in the country. I am incredibly thankful to be included in a team of excellent researchers led by Dr. Gordon Osinski. Not only an outstanding geologist and mentor, Dr. Osinski is also passionate about public education and outreach activities to promote space studies.

Aside from being a student, I am also the marketing director at the Canadian Space Society, and a member of the Moon Village Association. I wish that through my Year B project, I could contribute in promoting space studies within Canada and connect ISU to other organizations to accelerate space exploration.

After completing Year B, I plan to pursue further graduate studies in planetary science and focus on ISRU applications.”

ISU resident faculty, prof. Hugh Hill, who is Xiaochen’s year B supervisor adds:

“ISU is grateful to ESA for sponsoring Xiaochen’s research project and to Dr. Osinski and his colleagues at the University of Western Ontario for welcoming her.  We look forward to additional collaboration with our Canadian colleagues.”



Photo credit: Xiaochen Zhang - University of Western Ontario (UWO) Campus

Cover Photo credit: Xiaochen Zhang - ISU MSS year B student Ms. Xiaochen Zhang