The Challenge of Mining He-3 on the Lunar Surface: How All the Parts Fit Together

by Igor N. Sviatoslavsky, Univ of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

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


After the initial confirmation of the existence of He-3 on the lunar surface in 1985, there has been a flurry of activity both in the U.S. and abroad to find the best method of garnering it. The group at the University of Wisconsin has been focusing on a multipurpose lunar miner called Mark II which excavates, beneficiates, heats, then cools, and finally redeposits the soil on the lunar surface. Such a miner will be faced with many challenges in the harsh environment of the moon. One of the more difficult challenges is how to transfer regolith from the lunar vacuum into the interior of the miner operating at some pressure. This paper will examine this issue and seek a solution.

Subject Headings: Lunar materials | Moon | Excavation | Equipment and machinery | Regolith | Temperature effects | Space colonies

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