Excavation of Lunar Regolith with Rippers for Improved Energy Efficiency
As humanity's activities expand to the Moon, Mars, and other extra-terrestrial bodies, it will be necessary to use local resources rather than bringing everything from the Earth. This concept is called In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU), which starts with excavation and earthmoving. The present study focuses on loosening and moving of the lunar regolith by a ripper (or rake) and a wide blade. After characterizing the lunar regolith and two of its simulants (JSC-1A), the relationship between the excavation energy and different conditions, namely, relative density— a ratio describing the density of a material with respect to its maximum and minimum density —, and tine spacing on a rake, is investigated with scaled experiments. Prior ripping decreases total excavation energy by up to 20% if the relative density is > 60%. This study has proven that the characteristics of the lunar regolith, i.e. angular grains and high relative density, led to the effectiveness of ripping.
M. Iai and L. S. Gertsch, "Excavation of Lunar Regolith with Rippers for Improved Energy Efficiency," Transactions of the Japan Society for Aeronautical and Space Sciences, The Japan Society for Aeronautical and Space Sciences, Jan 2012.
Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering
Article - Journal
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