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Lunar material resources: An overviewThe analysis of returned lunar samples and a comparison of the physical and chemical processes operating on the Moon and on the Earth provide a basis for predicting both the possible types of material resources (especially minerals and rocks) and the physical characteristics of ore deposits potentially available on the Moon. The lack of free water on the Moon eliminates the classes of ore deposits that are most exploitable on Earth; namely, (1) hydrothermal, (2) secondary mobilization and enrichment, (3) precipitation from a body of water, and (4) placer. The types of lunar materials available for exploitation are whole rocks and their contained minerals, regolith, fumarolic and vapor deposits, and nonlunar materials, including solar wind implantations. Early exploitation of lunar material resources will be primarily the use of regolith materials for bulk shielding; the extraction from regolith fines of igneous minerals such as plagioclase feldspars and ilmenite for the production of oxygen, structural metals, and water; and possibly the separation from regolith fines of solar-wind-implanted volatiles. The only element, compound, or mineral, that by itself has been identified as having the economic potential for mining, processing, and return to Earth is helium-3.
Document ID
Document Type
Carter, James L.
(Texas Univ. Dallas, TX, United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1992
Publication Information
Publication: NASA. Johnson Space Center, Space Resources. Volume 3: Materials
Subject Category
Lunar And Planetary Exploration
Accession Number
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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