Lunar application regolith study
One of human challenges is the exploration of habitats outside the Earth. As the closest target, the moon acts as test area. Mandatory on cost and risk reduction is to use on-site available material: the so-called regolith. The creation of shelters against radiation and meteorites is of first priority. Further applications address separation of metals and volatiles. Researchers at TU Braunschweig (TUBS) design and produce moon regolith simulants and develop 3D printers mounted on rovers.
The main goal of the PhD project is to understand and link inner properties of various regolith types with use cases for lunar applications in construction. At TUBS, methods for direct processing the regolith by melting and sintering processes are being investigated and prototypes have been developed. The detailed study of regoltih mixtures under lunar conditions is of paramount importance to assess that the developed processes will be actually functioning while deployed. In-situ and in-operando measurements under conditions mimicking lunar environment can be implemented in powerful neutron and synchrotron facilities only.
During the project, we aim at emulating the 3D printing process developed by TUBS to identify the phases present at various steps in the process (using mainly diffraction techniques) and to correlate with mechanical properties. To place neutron and synchrotron techniques as international space definition and verification tools is a target pursued by OHB.