Excavation of Icy Regolith is a prerequisite for extraterrestrial in-situ resource utilization. We propose a hammer-chisel cutting platform that exists on a backhoe and bucket structure that propagates low reaction forces into its supporting chassis. The chisel will be designed for wear survivability. Analytical models and test data will be used to estimate the durable lifespan, productivity, and energy efficiency of the chisel cutting system. Successful phase 1 feasibility studies will provide the groundwork for prototypes and product demonstration when integrated with commercial backhoe and bucket technology.
The hammer-chisel bucket is a complete solution for excavating hard, cemented, icy lunar regolith. Integrating cutting features onto a backhoe bucket reduces the need for auxiliary machinery to sweep the excavated regolith onto a mobile platform or conveyer making it an efficient use of mass. Three important functions in lunar surface mining will be addressed by our single innovation: Icy regolith breakage, sweeping, and loading.
Chisel cutting provides significant energy savings when compared to terrestrial drilling, blasting, and other traditional mining techniques. The drawback is that it is slow. However, with the acceleration of investments in autonomous technology, slow chisel cutting can very well be the lowest cost option for automated mining of soft to medium strength rock.