Assessing Lunar Resources with Remote Sensing

by Sandra C. Feldman, Bechtel Corp, San Francisco, United States,
H. A. Franklin, Bechtel Corp, San Francisco, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Space III


Four strategic architectures have been identified as part of the U.S. Space Exploration Initiative (SEI) to achieve U.S. goals with respect to the Moon. One of these architectures, space resource utilization, will make use of lunar resources to support energy production, habitation, fuel production, and more long term activities on the lunar surface. Remote sensing will be a very important tool for lunar resource assessment. In the present investigation, the terrestrial resource exploration process was examined for applications to future lunar prospecting missions. Remote sensing imagery of a terrestrial mine was examined to demonstrate image processing and to assess the adequacy of the information obtained by remote sensing from a reconnaissance aircraft/spacecraft alone. Imagery of the New Almaden mine was collected with a sensor with spectral bands in the visible, near infrared, shortwave infrared, and thermal infrared parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. Image processing strategies were designed to locate ultrabasic, carbonate, and iron-bearing rocks associated with the ore deposits. It was demonstrated that ground truth and field sampling were necessary to refine the strategies to identify resources and mineral alteration. In order to locate mineral resources on the Moon and put them into production, detailed verification, sampling, and field investigations will be need to establish the feasibility and scope of the mining operation and provide the engineering data.

Subject Headings: Moon | Sensors and sensing | Space colonies | Space exploration | Computer vision and image processing | Aerospace engineering | Architecture | Minerals

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