Researchers have blasted simulated lunar soil on Earth and fused the soil into what could one day be used as roads and landing pads on the lunar surface.
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Lunar soil isn’t favorable for exploration on the surface of the moon, both by astronauts and rovers. The lunar soil is comprised of lunar volcanic rock that has been bombarded by the Sun’s radiation, resulting in it being a very fine pounder that is electrically charged. This charged powder appears white as the surface of the moon reflects light from the Sun, but its true color is more of a dark gray. Notably, the moon doesn’t have any wind, or water systems, which on Earth erode soil, making the edges of the tiny granules less sharp.
The moon’s soil is the opposite, with many of its fine dust particles having sharp edges. Since most of the soil is electrically charged, it proves to be “especially sticky,” according to Juan-Carlos Ginés-Palomares, an aerospace engineer at Aalen University in Germany. The combination of the aforementioned factors regarding moon dust makes it a real hazard for rovers, astronauts, landings, and general exploration on the surface.
A new study by Ginés-Palomares and a team of researchers has performed an experiment with laser beams that simulated concentrated sunlight to produce triangular-shaped tiles 9.8 inches wide and 1 inch thick. This same technique could reportedly be used to fuse together large regions of the lunar soil in preparation for landings, or roads for rovers and astronauts to travel on.
“In this way, tiles could be created on the moon in a relatively short time with simple equipment,” Ginés-Palomares said.