Electromagnetic Energy Applications in Lunar Resource Mining and Construction.
18th Lunar & Planetary Science Conf Houston Texas, 3/16-20/87 Cambridge Univ Press Pp 365-373 :365-373
This paper reports the investigation of past work during the Apollo Program and current efforts to determine extraterrestrial mining technology requirements leading to the exploration of various methods applicable to lunar or planetary resource mining and processing. The use of electromagnetic energy sources is explored and demonstrated using laboratory methods to establish a proof of concept for application to lunar mining, construction, and resource extraction. Experimental results of using laser, microwave, and solar energy to fragment or melt terrestrial basalt under atmospheric and vacuum conditions are presented. Successful thermal stress fragmentation of dense igneous rock was demonstrated by all three electromagnetic energy sources. The results show that a vacuum environment has no adverse effects of fragmentation by induced thermal stresses. The vacuum environment has a positive effect for rock disintegration by melting, cutting, or penetration applications due to release of volatiles that assist in melt ejection. Consolidation and melting of basaltic fines are also demonstrated by these methods.
18th Lunar & Planetary Science Conf, Houston, Texas, 3/16-20/87. Cambridge Univ Press, Pp 365-373