Sintered regolith: for Martian, Lunar, and Terrestrial construction
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This project proposes laboratory flexural and compressive testing of sintered regolith samples to determine the material’s mechanical properties in support of the Surface Systems research at NASA and Florida Tech’s Buzz Aldrin Space Institute. The Surface Systems group at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is researching In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) technologies, including the potential for regolith as a construction material on Mars. This project will also examine the possibility of sintered regolith as a sustainable innovation in construction materials on Earth. However, data regarding the engineering properties of sintered regolith simulant are currently insufficient and those that are available have yet to be laboratory tested. This project involves the fabrication and testing of samples composed of sintered planetary regolith simulant, as well as design and modeling of conceptual construction methods which might be applied to buildings, launch pads, roadways, ablative heat shields, and other Martian, Lunar, and Terrestrial infrastructure. Compression, splitting tensile and flexural testing of the sintered regolith samples will yield various mechanical attributes such as compressive strength, flexural strength, and splitting tensile strength. The same testing will be carried out with Quikrete No. 1004 concrete specimens serving as an experimental control. The information from this project shall aid in the development innovative construction methods which show promise as building methods for the Earth, Moon, and Mars. Therefore, the proposed research is critical in order to effectively engineer equipment and structures for Martian Infrastructure and beyond by exploring the sintering process and testing.