Sky's Up - Fall 2015 - Page 20

3 4 How do you simulate building conditions on the Moon and/or Mars while working with the materials on Earth? This microwave heating system is now being evaluated as an efficient means to heat various soils in order to extract volatiles (primarily water). The soil samples are contained in a quartz tube that is inserted in the microwave cavity. Usually initial studies are performed under Earth’s atmosphere. Later, the building techniques can be evaluated either in a vacuum (like on the Moon) or in a low pressure CO2 atmosphere (similar to that on Mars). How would the bricks be assembled into an actual structure, and how would it be anchored to the surface? What seals the bricks together, and would the structure be airtight? There are many approaches that are being investigated to address these questions. One approach we are looking at is to melt the regolith (lunar or Mars soil) using microwaves and the