Isle’s Mission to Solve Earth’s Water Crisis with Space Technology

“Innovation doesn’t always come from the most obvious places,” says Olivier Usher, Head of Research at Challenge Works, who leads the Aqualunar Challenge.

Reaching for the Stars: Why Isle is Venturing Beyond Earth’s Boundaries

In the vast expanse of our universe, there lies a realm where innovation knows no bounds and challenges are met with unwavering determination. It is in this frontier, beyond the confines and governance of Earth, that Isle finds itself drawn towards new horizons and unexplored possibilities.

“To boldly go where no one has gone before…!” As Caroline Wadsworth, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Isle, jokes.

The space industry, inherently cautious in its approach to risk, has paradoxically fueled a rapid pace of technological advancement. This acceleration has not only propelled our exploration of the cosmos but also yielded tangible benefits here on Earth. As examples satellite communications have revolutionized global connectivity, while medical imaging technologies such as MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and CT (Computed Tomography) scans, initially developed for monitoring astronaut health during space missions, are now indispensable tools in modern healthcare.

Here on Earth, we’ve come to depend on water purification systems originally designed for space missions. Advanced filtration and sterilization technologies, initially developed for the challenges of space exploration, have found new purposes in water treatment plants and potable water purification devices. These innovations play a vital role in ensuring widespread access to clean and safe drinking water, enhancing public health and well-being.

What is the Aqualunar Challenge?

The Aqualunar Challenge is a UK-Canada challenge prize focused on developing technology to purify water on the Moon. Challenge Works is delivering the Aqualunar Challenge in the UK on behalf of the UK Space Agency, in collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency and Impact Canada who run a parallel challenge in Canada. Find out more at

Innovation doesn’t always come from the most obvious places,” says Olivier Usher, Head of Research at Challenge Works, who leads the Aqualunar Challenge. “When NASA was looking for a new design for astronauts’ gloves, they ran a public competition to see who had the best idea. When the Canadian Space Agency was looking for ways to provide healthcare to astronauts in space, they too decided to offer a prize. The Aqualunar Challenge is the UK Space Agency’s first challenge prize. It’s offering cash incentives to the teams that have the best ideas for how to remove the contaminants from the dirty ice that can be found under the lunar dust. It’s a particularly tough task in the harsh conditions of space, but it’s worth doing because clean water will be essential for future missions to the Moon and beyond.

So why is Isle involved in this project? The answers lie in our unwavering commitment to accelerating technology innovation and our goal to lead the water environmental transition charge;

  • Cross-Pollination of Ideas: By leveraging lessons from space exploration, Isle aims to catalyze growth and innovation within the water ecosystem;
  • Transferring Luna Technology to Terrestrial Challenges: Despite the stark differences between Earth and luna, water challenges remain strikingly similar. The Aqualunar Challenge presents a unique opportunity to harness funding and partnerships for developing solutions that transcend planetary boundaries;
  • Innovative Solutions for Earth’s Water Crisis: With projections that 7 regions will face severe water stress by 2030 with up to 12 (out of the 17) regions in severe water stress by 2040 – Smart Water Magazine, Isle’s proactive approach to water management is more critical than ever. By exploring scalable options and decentralized solutions inspired by luna technology, Isle seeks to address pressing challenges such as drought resilience and flood management;
  • Isle’s Role as a Catalyst for Change: From facilitating the application process for luna projects to providing technical and commercial support, Isle plays a pivotal role in translating innovative ideas into tangible solutions. By bridging the gap between scientific feasibility and commercial viability, Isle is driving a paradigm shift in water management practices.

At Isle, we have always had a sense of adventure. By embracing the lessons of space exploration and pushing the boundaries of innovation, Isle is leading the charge towards a sustainable water future, both on Earth and beyond.




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