Dust mitigation on the lunar surface is an early priority for permanent or
long-term lunar and Martian outposts. The physical characteristics of
regolith on the lunar surface, along with its lack of an atmosphere and low
gravity make the fine particles a hazard for equipment and operations on the
moon. Mars presents similar hazards with its low-pressure atmosphere and
reduced gravity. Regolith ejected from landers upon landing or taking off
represent the highest risk due to the high exhaust velocities.
To mitigate high-velocity regolith from being ejected into adjacent areas,
landing and launch pads require surface stabilization. Due to the large mass
required and high payload costs, methods that incorporate ISRU have the
potential to present a lower-cost and more efficient option for planetary
Past work by PISCES, in conjunction with NASA SwampWorks and Honeybee
robotics, has focused on sintering basalt without binders. This method has
proven successful, but the high energy and the need for consumable high-
temperature molds would incur substantial energy and payload costs.
Recent work done by PISCES evaluated the use of a binder in an aqueous
solution that eliminates the problem of high energy input required for the
process. The use of this binder has allowed for a reduction of the sintering
temperature of the basalt, but most importantly, it cures into a structurally
viable material under a vacuum and in CO 2 . This can be a game changer that
allows for the regolith binder mix to be used in additive construction
operations without the need for additional heat or consumable molds.
This proposal leverages Masten Space Systems’ work on the effects of PSI on
surface erosion with their hot plume sample interaction testing and PISCES’
work on basalt-binder composites.
This proposal will advance and validate this novel binder-regolith composite
for surface construction and develop an effective composite extruder for the
The proposed innovation addresses a number of NASA objectives.This proposal addresses several technologies relevant to NASA as outlined in the 2020 NASA Technology Taxonomy. The process fits within TX07.2.3 Surface Construction and Assembly. Additionally, this proposal directly addresses TX13.4.6 Ground Analogs for Space/Surface Systems, touches upon TX12.1.4 Materials for Extreme Environments, and SKG Theme 3. The primary use would be for the Artemis program supporting human landings.
Potential non-NASA markets include lunar and Martian infrastructure for commercial providers, , non-terrestrial production of heat shields and radiation shielding. Potential terrestrial markets are tiles and countertops, and as a sintered product, refractory tiles for launch pads and furnaces.