Processing of Lunar/Mars raw materials into usable structural and thermal components for use on a Lunar/Mars base will be essential for human habitation. One such component will be glass fiber which can be used in a number of applications. Glass fiber has been produced from two lunar soil simulants. These two materials simulate lunar mare and lunar highlands soil compositions. Short fibers containing recrystallized areas were produced from the as-received simulants. Doping the highland simulant with 8 weight percent boria yielded a material which could be spun continuously. The effects of lunar gravity on glass fiber formation were studied utilizing NASA’s KC 135 aircraft. Gravity was found to play a role in crystallization and final fiber diameter.
Nearly a decade ago the DOD Clementine lunar orbital mission obtained data indicating that the permanently shaded regions at the lunar poles may have permanently frozen water in the lunar soil. Currently NASA’s Robotic Lunar Exploration Program, RLEP-2, is planned to land at the lunar pole to determine if water is present. The detection and extraction of water from the permanently frozen permafrost is an important goal for NASA. Extraction of water from lunar permafrost has a high priority in the In-Situ Resource Utilization, ISRU, community for human life support and as a fuel. The use of microwave processing would permit the extraction of water without the need to dig, drill, or excavate the lunar surface. Microwave heating of regolith is potentially faster and more efficient than any other heating methods due to the very low thermal conductivity of the lunar regolith. Also, microwaves can penetrate into the soil permitting water removal from deep below the lunar surface. A cryogenic vacuum test facility was developed for evaluating the use of microwave heating and water extraction from a lunar regolith permafrost simulant. Water is obtained in a cryogenic cold trap even with soil conditions below 0 C. The results of microwave extraction of water experiments will be presented.