Surface Mine Design and Planning for Lunar Regolith Production


Terrestrial surface mine design and planning techniques are applied to the production of lunar regolith for manufacturing makeup gases for the life-support system of a lunar base. Two scenarios are examined, due to the uncertainty of whether bound hydrogen sensed near the lunar poles is from cometary ice deposited in cold traps (#1), or to hydrogen implanted within regolith grains by the solar wind (#2). Scenario #1, with a total production requirement of 44 tonne/day of regolith, could be handled with four groups of four 6-m3 capacity slushers (drag scrapers), each group extending 100 m around a single processing module. Scenario #2 (4.382 tonne/day) could be accomplished with three powered bowl-type scrapers (capacity 24 m3) gathering the regolith into long windrows feeding a large processor. The present orebody model is extremely thin (1 m), although broad in extent: this prevents usage of high production-rate systems such as large draglines.

Meeting Name

1st Symposium on Space Colonization, of the SpaceTechnology and Applications International Forum (2003: Feb. 2-5, Albuquerque, NM)


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

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Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

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© 2003 American Institute of Physics (AIP), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Feb 2003