Vacuum Melting and Mechanical Testing of Simulated Lunar Glasses

by J. E. Carsley, Michigan Technological Univ, Houghton, United States,
J. D. Blacic, Michigan Technological Univ, Houghton, United States,
B. J. Pletka, Michigan Technological Univ, Houghton, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

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


Lunar silicate glasses may possess superior mechanical properties compared to terrestrial glasses because the anhydrous lunar environment should prevent hydrolytic weakening of the strong Si-O bonds. This hypothesis was tested by melting, solidifying, and determining the fracture toughness of simulated mare and highlands composition glasses in a high vacuum chamber. The fracture toughness, KIC, of the resulting glasses was obtained via microindentation techniques. KIC increased as the testing environment was changed from air to a vacuum of 10-7 torr. However, this increase in toughness may not result solely from a reduction in the hydrolytic weakening effect; the vacuum-melting process produced both the formation of spinel crystallites on the surfaces of the glass samples and significant changes in the compositions which may have contributed to the improved KIC.

Subject Headings: Glass | Moon | Silica | Toughness | Mechanical properties | Hydrologic properties | Cracking | Hydraulic fracturing

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