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Soil mechanics on the Moon, Mars, and MulberryFrom a soil mechanics point of view, the Moon is a relatively simple place. Without any water, organics, or clay minerals, the geotechnical properties of the lunar soil are confined to a fairly limited range. Furthermore, the major soil-forming agent is meteorite impact, which breaks the big particles into little particles; and simultaneously, cements the little particles back together again with molten glass. After about a hundred million years of exposure to meteorite impact, the distribution of particle sizes in the soil achieves a sort of steady state. The majority of the returned lunar soil samples have been found to be well-graded silty-sand to sandy-silt (SM in the Unified Soil Classification System). Each of the particle size distributions plots within a relatively narrow band, which appears to be uniform over the entire lunar surface. This further restricts the range of physical properties of the lunar surface. In contrast, Martian soils should exhibit an extremely wide range of properties. We already know that there is a small amount of water in the soil, greater than in the Martian atmosphere. Furthermore, the soil is suspected to be smectitic clay. That makes two out of the three factors that greatly affect the properties of terrestrial soils.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Carrier, W. D., III (Bromwell and Carrier, Inc. Lakeland, FL, United States)
Date Acquired
September 5, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1988
Publication Information
Publication: Lunar and Planetary Inst., Workshop on Mars Sample Return Science
Subject Category
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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NameType 19890008932.pdf STI