LDC 2023 Topic: Microwaving Regolith for Dust and Radiation Protection and Resource Acquisition
Controlling lunar dust, radiation protection and harvesting water for oxygen and propellant are top priorities for a lunar enterprise. This mission concept utilizes a derivative of the Chariot lunar rover prototype with the LANCE blade augmented with a dual band microwave array for regolith sintering, habitat construction and harvesting of subsurface water ice. Roadways between the landing site and habitat location and between the habitat and the nearby permanently shadowed regions will be sintered to eliminate most dust on these frequently traversed routes. For construction of the inflatable habitat, the rover will remove the top 2 meters of regolith from the habitat site, sinter a habitat foundation, deploy the bladder then bury the bladder to a depth of 2.5-3 meters. Once the habitat bladder is inflated, the rover will sinter the lower 1 to 2 meters of the walls where the slope is close to the regolith angle of repose. Following completion of the habitat, the rover will deploy to nearby permanently shadowed regions to begin sublimating and capturing water ice and other volatiles.