Characterisation and evaluation of lunar regolith simulants for use in in-situ resource utilisation research
Lomax, Bethany A.
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Lunar in-situ resource utilisation (ISRU), the practice of harnessing native lunar resources, has been suggested as a method of enabling self-sustaining habitation and exploration of space. The lunar surface is covered in a thick layer of regolith material, which has been proposed as the feedstock for oxygen and metal extraction, construction materials, 3D printed parts, and other useful materials and applications. Lunar regolith simulant materials made from terrestrial sources are crucial for research to develop ISRU processes and technology. The full characterisation of any material used is necessary to enable proper understanding of experimental results, how they relate to previous research, and how they can be applied to the lunar context. Four general-purpose regolith simulants were investigated in this characterisation study: JSC-2A, FJS-1, EAC-1A, and NULHT-3M. Full published characterisation data on these simulant versions was either unavailable, incomplete, or uncertain, leading to the need for the present study. The chemical and mineralogical composition of each simulant was analysed, along with relevant physical characteristics. Each simulant was compared to previously available related simulants, and the similarity to actual lunar regolith assessed. This led to conclusions about the applicability of each lunar regolith simulant in different types of ISRU research.