Presentation Title

Investigation into microbial alteration of extraterrestrial regolith simulants for cementation and induced cohesion in support of NASA’s in-situ resource utilization efforts

Abstract

A renewed interest in a human mission to the Moon following a 40+ year hiatus and new initiatives related to Mars and asteroids have stimulated the need for a better understanding of extraterrestrial regoliths. Understanding the expected surface regoliths (soils) will influence humans’ ability to explore and inhabit these extraterrestrial bodies. Therefore, it is important to reliably simulate the expected regolith properties for geotechnical aspects of space exploration such as landing, walking, and investigating potential exploitation of lunar resources to develop extraterrestrial habitats. The objective of creating a permanent lunar outpost is to advance and test the scientific and engineering techniques required for human missions to Mars and deeper in the solar system. Establishing a lunar outpost will pose new challenges and require a shift in the approach of exploration to the idea of adaptation. This shift in the way we think about space exploration has expanded geotechnical interests beyond characterization and into viewing regolith (similar to the view of soils on earth) as a resource to be manipulated to serve as a function for the connectivity of humans to the environment. New bio-inspired (biomimicry/biomimetics/bionics) geotechnical techniques are emerging which utilize the stimulation of microbes via urease hydrolysis to precipitate calcium carbonate in the polymorph of calcite. Microbially induced calcite precipitation (MICP) can bond otherwise loose soil particles, thereby increasing the soil strength. Although the bacteria are not naturally occurring and would need to be introduced, this technique can be used to increase shear strength and stiffness of a weak or unconsolidated regolith for slope stabilization, habitat construction, or even creating bricks.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Mandar Dewoolkar, PhD, PE

Secondary Mentor NetID

rbadireddy

Secondary Mentor Name

Raju Badireddy, PhD

Status

Graduate

Student College

College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences

Program/Major

Civil Engineering

Primary Research Category

Engineering & Physical Sciences

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Investigation into microbial alteration of extraterrestrial regolith simulants for cementation and induced cohesion in support of NASA’s in-situ resource utilization efforts

A renewed interest in a human mission to the Moon following a 40+ year hiatus and new initiatives related to Mars and asteroids have stimulated the need for a better understanding of extraterrestrial regoliths. Understanding the expected surface regoliths (soils) will influence humans’ ability to explore and inhabit these extraterrestrial bodies. Therefore, it is important to reliably simulate the expected regolith properties for geotechnical aspects of space exploration such as landing, walking, and investigating potential exploitation of lunar resources to develop extraterrestrial habitats. The objective of creating a permanent lunar outpost is to advance and test the scientific and engineering techniques required for human missions to Mars and deeper in the solar system. Establishing a lunar outpost will pose new challenges and require a shift in the approach of exploration to the idea of adaptation. This shift in the way we think about space exploration has expanded geotechnical interests beyond characterization and into viewing regolith (similar to the view of soils on earth) as a resource to be manipulated to serve as a function for the connectivity of humans to the environment. New bio-inspired (biomimicry/biomimetics/bionics) geotechnical techniques are emerging which utilize the stimulation of microbes via urease hydrolysis to precipitate calcium carbonate in the polymorph of calcite. Microbially induced calcite precipitation (MICP) can bond otherwise loose soil particles, thereby increasing the soil strength. Although the bacteria are not naturally occurring and would need to be introduced, this technique can be used to increase shear strength and stiffness of a weak or unconsolidated regolith for slope stabilization, habitat construction, or even creating bricks.