Many folks would like to see us back on the Moon and developing its resources.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Good day.
NASA Science always has interesting material and this was posted yesterday.
- LRK -
NASA Science News for November 9, 2005
How do you put troublesome moondust to good use? Simple. All it takes is a lunar lawn mower.
When the astronauts got back in the Lunar Module they smelled a burning smell like gunpowder. It is thought that the Lunar Regolith with its un-oxidized iron, rusted quickly in the rich oxygen atmosphere in the LM.
- LRK -
Don't Breathe the Moondust
When humans return to the Moon and travel to Mars, they'll have to be careful of what they inhale.
April 22, 2005: This is a true story.
In 1972, Apollo astronaut Harrison Schmitt sniffed the air in his Lunar Module, the Challenger. "[It] smells like gunpowder in here," he said. His commander Gene Cernan agreed. "Oh, it does, doesn't it?"

The two astronauts had just returned from a long moonwalk around the Taurus-Littrow valley, near the Sea of Serenity. Dusty footprints marked their entry into the spaceship. That dust became airborne--and smelly.
MP3 Audio Clip starting at 124:14:09 ( 19 min 55 sec ) 2.26 MB
124:19:39 Schmitt: Again?
124:19:40 Cernan: That one's still safe. And that one's still safe.
124:19:47 Schmitt: Smells like gunpowder, just like the boys said.
124:19:53 Cernan: Oh, it does, doesn't it? (Pause)
[They have just removed their helmet and, as did previous crews, notice that the dust in the air smells like burnt gunpowder. There is enough dust in the air to smell, but not enough to see.]
124:20:00 Cernan: Okay, "Descent Water valve, Open." Ohh, boy! I ran out of water out there. I mean the drinking kind. (Pause)
What will the stories be like on the next Lunar Missions?
- LRK -

Larry Kellogg
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November 9, 2005: "If you can't lick 'em, join 'em," goes a cliché that essentially means "figure out how to live with whatever you can't get rid of."

That may be superb advice for living and working on the moon.

Scientists and engineers figuring out how to return astronauts to the moon, set up habitats, and mine lunar soil to produce anything from building materials to rocket fuels have been scratching their heads over what to do about moondust. It's everywhere! The powdery grit gets into everything, jamming seals and abrading spacesuit fabric. It also readily picks up electrostatic charge, so it floats or levitates off the lunar surface and sticks to faceplates and camera lenses. It might even be toxic.

So what do you do with all this troublesome dust? Larry Taylor, Distinguished Professor of Planetary Sciences at the University of Tennessee has an idea: Don't try to get rid of it--melt it into something useful!
more info - 37 page 3.88 meg, pdf file of presentation by Larry Taylor -
Lunar Knowledge Requirements for Human Exploration
March 1-3, 2004
Workshop Agenda
Final Report by G. Jeffrey Taylor and Stephen Mackwell
24 March 2004
28 page, 150 KB, pdf file.
Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Space IV
American Society of Civil Engineers, pp. 1220-1229, 1994
Carlton C. Allen, John C. Graf, and David S. McKay
Sintering of full-scale "bricks" from lunar soil simulant materials can be accomplished by radiant heating to 1100¡C for approximately 2 hours, followed by slow cooling. Small-scale precompaction and the use of a thermally insulating mold are critical for producing strong, crack-free products. Sintering can also be accomplished using a combination of microwave and radiant heating, though the technique is extremely sensitive to thermal profile and configuration. Sintering in hydrogen is synergistic with oxygen production and yields samples containing enough iron metal to permit handling by a magnet.


Hybrid Microwave Sintering

The sintering of geological samples by microwave heating was initially investigated by Meek et al. (1985). We have run a series of investigations into the sintering of crushed MLS-1 basalt in a laboratory microwave furnace. The CEM MDS-81 furnace operates at a frequency of 2.45 GHz and delivers approximately 600 W of microwave energy to the sample. The furnace utilizes an inner chamber of refractory brick, which protects the stainless steel inner walls from overheating. Sample temperatures were approximately monitored by a thermocouple placed in a grounded steel housing immediately below the sample mold.

Each sample of crushed MLS-1 basalt was placed in a cylindrical graphite mold 3.6 cm in diameter by 3.2 cm high. The powder was hand tamped to achieve a porosity of approximately 30%. The mold was capped with a graphite lid 0.26 cm thick. All heating was done in air. However, the graphite mold served as an oxygen "getter," somewhat reducing the effective oxygen fugacity of the sample.

Controlled, even sintering of rock powder by direct microwave heating proved impossible, due to the combined effects of thermal runaway (Kenkre et al., 1991) and self-insulation. The microwave coupling efficiencies of the minerals in MLS-1 rise dramatically with sample temperature. As a result initial heating is slow, but becomes increasingly rapid at temperatures
above approximately 400¡C. Microwaves penetrate the sample, and heating occurs throughout its volume. However, the center is well insulated by surrounding material, and heats faster than the outside. Typically, our samples sintered strongly or melted in the centers but remained unsintered on the edges.

To achieve uniform sintering we developed a hybrid heating technique, combining microwave and radiant heating. We surrounded the sample crucible with seven silicon carbide blocks, measuring 7.6 x 1.0 x 1.8 cm, in a "picket fence" arrangement (Figure 1). The silicon carbide converted part of the microwave energy to heat. Our samples were heated at full power for
periods of up to two hours, and then allowed to cool slowly in the mold under reduced microwave power.
Glass and Ceramics
Larry A. Haskin
A variety of glasses and ceramics can be produced from bulk lunar materials or from separated components. Many glassy materials have been described in previous studies (Mackenzie and Claridge 1979, Criswell 1980). They include sintered (heated and pressed) regolith, quenched molten basalt, and transparent glass formed from fused plagioclase. No research has been carried out on lunar material or close simulants, so properties are not known in detail; however, common glass technologies such as molding and spinning seem feasible (fig. 7). Uses of glass include structural applications (bricks, slabs, beams, windows) and specialty applications
(fiber strengtheners, insulation, heat shields, cables, light pipes). See figures 8 and 9.
Thanks for looking up with me.
- LRK -
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