Not sure if NASA has this on tap or not, but Benjamin Eimer and Lawrence Taylor of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville just invented a special magnetic collection tube that sucks up lunar soil so we can extract precious resources for use in future moon colonies. The tube, which is sort of like an elephant's trunk or one of those leaf suckers, would suck up lunar soil (not peanuts and leaves) containing water, oxygen and other resources to be extracted by astronauts. They'd need to gather and transport large amounts of the stuff without stirring up jagged moon shards and hazardous dust, so bulldozer-like equipment is definitely out of the question. The tube's coils would create a magnetic field that attracts the iron-laden soil, keeping it neatly centered to be distributed to storage facilities or processing plants via a pipeline system. Assuming the tube rules at collecting a massive supply, the soil can then be bagged to stack on top of lunar habitats to help regulate unpredictable temperatures and block radiation from hazardous space particles. Sweet! Once they hook us up with some sci-fi WiFi, we'll be reporting from Engadget's new intergalactic office.

[Thanks, Matthew]

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Magnetic space tube to help suck up lunar soil