Abstract : The purpose of this research is to design an experimental package to be attached to a lunar exploration rover that will demonstrate the feasibility of using lunar regolith as a source for acquiring oxygen in-situ.

The experimental package has two main subdivisions. The robotic arm will be used for excavation of the regolith and delivery to the reaction chambers.

The reaction chambers will utilize electrostatic separation and electrolysis techniques to extract oxygen from the soil.

A complete mission timeline will tie all aspects of the experiment operational tasks together, including surface mission phases, scenarios, and necessary procedures for the surface mission including remote and autonomous operations.

Trade studies were performed for the materials to be used for both the reaction chambers and the robotic arm. The factors taken into consideration were based on design methodologies emphasizing low mass, low power consumption, and high efficiency.

Molten Silicate Electrolysis seems to be the most promising method of oxygen extraction. The method under study involves electrostatic separation of the silicates from the soil prior to the molten electrolysis.

The electrolysis is to be followed by separation of oxygen from other bi-products of the process and the condensation of pure oxygen in a collection chamber.

The general experimental schematics were developed taking into account the location of the landing site, characteristics of the lunar regolith, and other facets of the lunar environment.

A preliminary analysis of the reaction mechanisms was performed for each design option. With the task definitions and requirements as defined by competition guidelines, a series of trade studies were developed for further study.

In the subsequent analyses, power usage, mass, efficiency, and reliability will be optimized.



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This pdf has been created by Florida Tech ISRU Design Team at Florida Institute of Technology .