A large rocket landing on the moon will blow the dust like regolith all over the place. The dust and regolith could damage the rocket landing and the material could even fly off into space causing damage and hazard to satellites.
A NASA NIAC study is looking at putting materials into the fuel of a rocket that is landing which would react with the regolith and harden it into a crude landing pad.
Regolith Adaptive Modification System (RAMs) to Support Early Extraterrestrial Planetary Landings (and Operations).
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9 thoughts on “Turning Lunar Regolith Into a Landing Pad”
Agreed with the rover proposal. The first few landings must be on unimproved surface, but it would be absurd to start out with a landing pad as wide as a kilometer.
This is yet another reason I want SLS to live long enough to become an Energia side mount evolution.
I have seen some some slide-out lunar landing approaches. I see a wide wing like foot left behind by an erector launcher sled that stands up a return rocket fuselage on shocks.
A few of these pads will be joined for a solid pad and the TEL skeletons also joined for a true launch landing pad for Starship and other craft.
I would be just fine with a 1 KM *spot* ready for landing and driving around. The problem is more that the mirror moves, and would have a hard time keeping up the heat long enuf. Big, orbiting solar concentrating mirrors are a "good thing" (TM). Many uses. I'll admit, rovers first.
The Sun is half a degree wide in the sky. If your orbit is 114.6 km high, the smallest spot you can focus to is 1 km wide. Therefore you need a very large mirror to reach melting temperatures.
A medium-size rover can carry a several meter reflector and do the job over time, like a 3D printer.
can be turned into a handy space based orbital weapon as well.
One big mirror orbiting the Moon would be able to get the pads, roads and foundations ready before we leave.
Average depth across the Moon is 5 meters. But it is not like there is bedrock underneath, like we have under the soil on Earth. The Moon has been pummeled by impacts for billions of years. So larger rocks exist below the dust and small rock layer.
The easiest way to get a solid landing and driving surface is by using concentrated sunlight to melt the surface layer to a suitable depth. Just drive around with a rover, moving the focal spot as you go. Even a 2 meter mirror can melt rock:
As I recall reading after the Apollo program, the regolith probably goes down a long ways, but over the billions of years meteor impacts have done a pretty effective job of tamping: Once you get maybe a meter down, it's at nearly full density. Density drops off as you get closer to the surface, until you reach a surface similar to hoarfrost, the fractal "fairy castle structure".
How deep is the regolith? The reason for asking is that perhaps it would be easier to just shovel the regolith away for a future landing pad with a lunar "bulldozer"? After all, the starship will allow shipping hundreds of tons to the lunar surface…
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