Characterization and Glass Formation of JSC-1 Lunar and Martian Soil Simulants
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The space exploration mission of NASA requires human and robotic presence for long duration beyond the low earth orbit (LEO), especially on Moon and Mars. Developing a human habitat or colony on these planets would require a diverse range of materials, whose applications would range from structural foundations, (human) life support, (electric) power generation to components for scientific instrumentations. A reasonable and cost-effective approach for fabricating the materials needed for establishing a self-sufficient human outpost would be to primarily use local (in situ) resources on these planets. Since ancient times, glass and ceramics have been playing a vital role on human civilization. A long term project on studying the feasibility of developing glass and ceramic materials has been undertaken using Lunar and Martian soil simulants (JSC-1) as developed by Johnson Space Center. The first step in this on-going project requires developing a data base on results that fully characterize the simulants to be used for further investigations. The present paper reports characterization data of both JSC-1 Lunar and JSC Mars-1 simulants obtained up to this time via x-ray diffraction analysis, scanning electron microscopy, thermal analysis (DTA, TGA) and chemical analysis. The critical cooling rate for glass formation for the melts of the simulants was also measured in order to quantitatively assess the glass forming tendency of these melts. The importance of the glasses and ceramics developed using in-situ resources for constructing human habitats on Moon or Mars is discussed.