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Utilizing Hawaiian Basalt to Learn How to Build on Other Planets

by Brea Aamoth on August 8th, 2017

‘Imiloa presents Rodrigo Romo, PISCES Program Manager 

Date: Fri. Aug. 18
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: $10, $8 for members (member level discounts apply)

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 our Hawaiian basalt. Learn more about the search for quality construction materials at ‘Imiloa’s Maunakea Skies talk with Rodrigo Romo, Program Manager at the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) on Friday, August 18 at 7:00 p.m.


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,” says 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.

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Rodrigo 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.

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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.

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Member Level Discounts: $8 for UHH/HawCC Student, Kupuna, Individual, Dual, and Family Members; $6 for Patron Members; Free for Silver, Gold, and Corporate Members.

About PISCES: 
PISCES is a state-funded Hawai’i aerospace center under the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT). The Hilo-based agency is working to position the state as a leader in space exploration while developing sustainable products and technologies that benefit the islands. Through applied business, workforce development and long-term business and economics development, PISCES provides hands-on experience to Hawai’i’s future scientists and engineers, preparing them to meet the demands of a highly competitive industry while improving the local economy through job diversification, innovative products and new industries.

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