New methods for the transport and management of lunar regolith

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Abstract

In the field of space exploration, it is essential to assemble and transport particles for various applications, for example transporting lunar and Martian soil (typically regolith), for mining, to study geological aspects and establish habitats on the Moon or Mars. The ability to synthesize complex materials directly in space or build specific structures on the surface of other planets is one the main challenges to be addressed in such a context. In this regard, the utilization of lunar regolith is being explored with regard to several potential applications, e.g., as feedstock for 3D printing and even as a solidsupport substrate for plant growth, a source for extraction of essential plant-growth nutrients, a substrate for microbial populations in the degradation of wastes, a source of O2 and H2, which may be used to manufacture water [1-3]. However, the lunar and Martian soils are difficult to handle, because they are made of abrasive and reactive materials. Regardless of its intended use, the use of lunar regolith is hindered by its intrinsic nature, which makes its management (transfer from the surface of the Moon inside ‘containers’ or transport inside ‘pipes’) relatively difficult. Lunar regolith is characterized by very strong electrostatic effects and internal friction, which strongly limit its ‘flowability’.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWhy Space?
Subtitle of host publicationThe Opportunity for Materials Science and Innovation
EditorsMarcello Lappa, Ian Hamerton, Peter C.E. Roberts, Andrew Kao, Marco Domingos, Hamid Soorghali, Philip Carvil
Place of PublicationDidcot
Pages131-133
Number of pages3
ISBN (Electronic)9781914241680
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2024

Keywords

  • lunar regolith
  • lunar soil
  • flowability
  • lunar geology

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