Scientists are considering deploying giant lenses to melt roads to the Moon using sunlight

Scientists are considering deploying giant lenses to melt roads to the Moon using sunlight

Lunar craters (NASA)

Our fears are coming true, folks: we could soon be looking at better roads on the moon than we have in Bengaluru!

As great as it is to be all-terrain, it's time to let our lunar rovers enjoy more comfortable roads. Not only would paving the Moon make the journey less bumpy for these indefatigable rovers, but scientists think it could also go a long way to protecting the landers and other technology we send there to explore. This is due to one simple reason: moon dust.

While Earth may have the winds and water needed to erode rocks into sand, the Moon's thin atmosphere and apparent lack of liquid water prevent rocks from sinking into such sand. fine Luxuries. But ironically, the lack of an atmosphere also means that our lunar neighbor is also constantly exposed to cosmic radiation and extraterrestrial influences, grinding its surface into powder-like debris.

This moon dust is a problem. Being electrically charged and sharp-edged makes it particularly sticky and abrasive, meaning that over time it could cause significant damage to lunar technology. It is well recognized that, confusing as it may be, it is unwise to inhale moon dust. Unless you want a lung full of consequences, of course.

In order to remove these disadvantages from lunar exploration, scientists have been thinking about paving roads on the moon for years. However, in the absence of space porters, one can only imagine how difficult and expensive it would be to regularly transport bulky materials from Earth to its satellite in space.

So, in an attempt to produce solutions on site, the researchers conducted experiments to see if they could instead reuse moon dust and turn it into workable materials for roads. And what better way to find out if something is working or not than to blast it with the power of the hot sun!

The team wanted to incorporate moon dust into dense, solid structures on which our rover could advance. In order to achieve this, they decided to focus sunlight on the lunar regolith, hoping that the resulting interaction would produce a powerful result. The following simulations entailed blasting EAC-1A—an artificial material resembling lunar soil—with powerful lasers that mimicked the sun's radiation.

In a remarkable success, the operation was able to manufacture hollow-centered triangular tiles approximately 9.8 inches wide and one inch thick. These tiles can interlock to form solid, flat surfaces that could be perfectly used as roads on the moon's surface, and perhaps even as landing sites for future missions.

However, to produce sunlight powerful enough to melt lunar dust into habitable tiles, scientists decided they would need particularly large lenses, up to 5.7 feet in diameter. Imagine using a giant magnifying glass, the size of your height, to set something on fire.

More experiments will be needed to find out how these moon tiles hold up in the harsh lunar environment, and how viable they are for landing pads. Simulating lunar conditions of low gravity and low atmospheric pressure would help in this mission.

The results of this research were published in Scientific reports It can be accessed here.

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