Printing bricks from moondust using the sun's heat

May 4, 2017, European Space Agency
Brick 3-D printed from moondust using focused sunlight. Credit: ESA–G. Porter, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Bricks have been 3-D printed out of simulated moondust using concentrated sunlight – proving in principle that future lunar colonists could one day use the same approach to build settlements on the moon.

"We took simulated lunar material and cooked it in a solar furnace," explains materials engineer Advenit Makaya, overseeing the project for ESA.

"This was done on a 3-D printer table, to bake successive 0.1 mm layers of at 1000°C. We can complete a 20 x 10 x 3 cm brick for building in around five hours."

As raw material, the test used commercially available simulated lunar soil based on terrestrial volcanic material, processed to mimic the composition and grain sizes of genuine moondust.

The solar furnace at the DLR German Aerospace Center facility in Cologne has two working setups. As a baseline, 147 curved mirrors focus sunlight into a high-temperature beam to melt the soil grains together. But the weather in northern Europe does not always cooperate, so the sun is sometimes simulated by an array of xenon lamps more typically found in cinema projectors.

The resulting bricks have the equivalent strength of gypsum, and are set to undergo detailed mechanical testing.

Some bricks show some warping at the edges, Advenit adds, because their edges cool faster than the centre: "We're looking how to manage this effect, perhaps by occasionally accelerating the printing speed so that less heat accumulates within the brick.

Bricks have been 3-D printed out of simulated moondust using concentrated sunlight. This ESA project took place at the DLR German Aerospace Center facility in Cologne, with a 3-D printer table attached to a solar furnace, baking successive 0.1 mm layers of moondust at a temperature of 1000°C. A 20 x 10 x 3 cm brick for building can be completed in around five hours. DLR Cologne's solar furnace has two working setups: as a baseline, it uses 147 curved mirror facets to focus either actual sunlight into a high temperature beam, employed to melt together the grains of regolith. But this mode is weather dependent, so a solar simulator was subsequently employed as well – based on an array of xenon lamps more typically found in cinema projectors. Credit: ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

"But for now this project is a proof of concept, showing that such a lunar construction method is indeed feasible."

Following this ESA General Support Technology Programme study, the follow-up RegoLight project is being backed through the EU's Horizon 2020 programme.

Advenit adds: "Our demonstration took place in standard atmospheric conditions, but RegoLight will probe the printing of bricks in representative lunar conditions: vacuum and high-temperature extremes."

ESA's effort follows a previous lunar 3-D printing project, but that approach required a binding salt. The new technique calls for only the 3-D printer plus solar concentrator to be conveyed to the moon.

The solar furnace at the DLR German Aerospace Center facility in Cologne has two working setups. As a baseline, 147 curved mirrors focus sunlight into a high-temperature beam. But the weather in northern Europe does not always cooperate, so the sun is sometimes simulated by an array of xenon lamps more typically found in cinema projectors. Credit: DLR

This continuing research is part of a range of studies being undertaken by ESA investigating techniques to use in-situ lunar resources for manufacturing infrastructure and hardware.

Tommaso Ghidini, heading ESA's Materials and Processes, notes, "For a mission like building a base on the moon surface, in-situ resource utilisation will certainly be one of the most important enabling technologies. This result offers the opportunity of a complete sustainable approach.

"Back on Earth, 3-D printing of civil structures using solar power and in-situ resources could support rapid construction of post-disaster emergency shelters, removing long, costly and often inefficient supply chains."

Multi-dome lunar base being constructed, based on the 3D printing concept. Once assembled, the inflated domes are covered with a layer of 3D-printed lunar regolith by robots to help protect the occupants against space radiation and micrometeoroids. Credit: ESA/Foster + Partners

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Dark_Solar
5 / 5 (1) May 04, 2017
Ok...so open-environment sintering to create objects with the same strength as gypsum? Gypsum is relatively weak but if the structure is thick enough it should be possible to coat the interior surface with a sealing-type resinous polymer that could serve as a means of converting the structure to a pressure vessel. -OR- Maybe it would be more advantageous to vitrify the interior surface of the whatever structure is built? It would definitely cut on construction costs vis-a-vis the need to transport resin/hardener/application equipment to the moon.
24volts
5 / 5 (1) May 04, 2017
There is a guy on youtube that had a portable 3d printer setup that uses a big fresnel lens and sand to make large bowls and stuff faster than how this stuff is being made if I'm not mistaken.
Solon
1 / 5 (5) May 04, 2017
Solar concentrators will not work on the Moon, the light has no heat.
PTTG
5 / 5 (8) May 05, 2017
Solar concentrators will not work on the Moon, the light has no heat.


I... what?

I mean, what?
daqddyo
5 / 5 (3) May 05, 2017
Well, if I'm building a structure for my housing on the moon I want my brick maker to make 1000 bricks a day, not one every 5 hours.
Solon: Is there no infrared radiation coming from the sun? Who knew?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (5) May 05, 2017
Solon: Is there no infrared radiation coming from the sun? Who knew?

Never mind. Solon is one of the EU nuts.
Dark_Solar
5 / 5 (3) May 05, 2017
Solar concentrators will not work on the Moon, the light has no heat.


Wait, what?!! No...just no.
Solon
1 / 5 (4) May 05, 2017
My statement is based on the experiences of the Apollo astronauts who were actually on the Moon, but , as with their statements that no stars were visible, their statements have been brushed aside with excuses such as the bright lunar surface and dark adaptation, which they themselves never mentioned.

Solon: Is there no infrared radiation coming from the sun? Who knew?

Infrared is only present where there is sufficient atmosphere to transformer shorter wavelengths of solar radiation to the IR. Visible light is also only created by the same process, the "Atmospheric Light Transformer" model as I have termed it explains everything, though credit for the idea itsel must go to Horace Winfield Webster. Heat from the Sun has never been directly measured, as we would measure it from Earth, with a pyrheliometer, from the Moon or outside of Earths atmosphere, it has only been estimated from examining spectral lines, and using the appropriate formulas. Not good enough.
434a
5 / 5 (4) May 05, 2017

Infrared is only present where there is sufficient atmosphere to transformer shorter wavelengths of solar radiation to the IR. Visible light is also only created by the same process


How much is "sufficient" exactly?
Solon
1 / 5 (2) May 05, 2017
"How much is "sufficient" exactly?"

That would be for experiments to determine. CO and CO2 are likely the main creators of thermal IR in Earths case.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (6) May 05, 2017
Infrared is only present where there is sufficient atmosphere to transformer shorter wavelengths of solar radiation to the IR.

You know, We've had these things called satellites outside the Earth's atmosphere (and quite a ways away, too) for quite some time that have done this newfangled thing we call: me-shuuur-ments
https://en.wikipe...m_en.svg

Notice that loooong tail in the IR? No? Welcome to denial city. Population: you
Solon
1 / 5 (4) May 05, 2017
"We've had these things called satellites"

And you understand just how the instruments on those satellites work? If so, maybe you can help me find out just what the new NavCams are seeing? IR, visible, UV?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (5) May 05, 2017
And you understand just how the instruments on those satellites work?

Here ya go
https://en.wikipe...trometer

If so, maybe you can help me find out just what the new NavCams are seeing? IR, visible, UV?

Here ya go
https://en.wikipe...i/Navcam

Note that the one doesn't have a thing to do with the other.

Google is your friend.
Solon
1 / 5 (4) May 05, 2017
Here ya go
https://en.wikipe...i/Navcam

Not a technical description at all, you have no idea. Maybe look at something simpler like the Sun sensor they have to have when they go into space.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (4) May 05, 2017
Navcams aren't for going into space. They are for ground based rovers.
Solon
1 / 5 (4) May 06, 2017
"Navcams aren't for going into space. They are for ground based rovers."

COMETWATCH - NAVCAM IMAGES
http://sci.esa.in...-images/

What wavelengths are they detecting?

Dark_Solar
5 / 5 (2) May 06, 2017
Infrared is only present where there is sufficient atmosphere to transformer shorter wavelengths of solar radiation to the IR. Visible light is also only created by the same process


Ummm...there's a bit of a logic problem with that statement; if it held true, a vented digital camera under hard vacuum conditions wouldn't be capable of capturing a visible spectrum image. Additionally, the Hubble Space Telescope is a vented optical telescope and has been capturing visible light images for years.

Agreed that, unlike in standard atmospheric conditions, it is impossible to perceive light rays travelling at transverse trajectory relative to one's eyes in a vacuum due to lack of scattering medium but visible light that enters the eye or an objective lens directly is both perceivable and recordable. Further, H.W. Webster's hypothesis on light has been thoroughly tested and proven invalid.
Dark_Solar
5 / 5 (2) May 06, 2017
And while we're on the subject of the assertion that there is no infrared radiation in space, please explain how it is that an object in orbit can be scorching hot on the side facing the sun and only a few degrees above absolute zero on the side facing away from the sun? As I understand it, in order to absorb infrared radiation and thus gain a higher thermal energy state, an object must first be exposed to infrared radiation...which would not be possible in an environment without an atmosphere (like the hard vacuum of space) if Mr. Webster's hypothesis held true.
Solon
1 / 5 (3) May 07, 2017
Additionally, the Hubble Space Telescope is a vented optical telescope and has been capturing visible light images for years

Hubble is not a conventional telescope, there are none in orbit as they would see nothing if looking directly away from Earth. Why do Russia, India, china, Japan not have visible light space based telescopes.

"And while we're on the subject of the assertion that there is no infrared radiation in space,"

Inever said there wasn't, WISE sees infrared, mainly an unidentified spectral line at 3.5 microns.

Surface temperatures can increase by the process of UV and up causing electron transitions, which will give off light that can heat neighbouring material.

"Further, H.W. Webster's hypothesis on light has been thoroughly tested and proven invalid."
When, where, by who? Be interested in that.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) May 07, 2017
What wavelengths are they detecting?

Which is besides the point because you were claiming (lemme refresh your memory):
Infrared is only present where there is sufficient atmosphere to transformer shorter wavelengths of solar radiation to the IR.
(which the graph I linked to clearly shows is wrong)

So what are you on about the sensitivity of navcams? They aren't used in space and so cannot be used to substantiate your ridiculous statement. (But if you're really interested: Depending on the type of sensor they use navcams on rovers are sensitive in the visible spectrum and parts of the IR spectrum. The sensitivity is dependent on the band gap of the used material. E.g. your standard handycam is also partially sensitive in the IR spectrum )
Dark_Solar
5 / 5 (4) May 07, 2017
@Solon

I suspect you may be missing or deliberately ignoring/denying the point; the Hubble Space Telescope is an optical (i.e. conventional) telescope.

"Optical telescope --a telescope that gathers and focuses light, *mainly from the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum*, to create a magnified image for direct view, or to make a photograph, or to collect data through electronic image sensors."

"With a 2.4-meter (7.9 ft) mirror, Hubble's four main instruments observe in the near ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared spectra. Hubble's orbit outside the distortion of Earth's atmosphere allows it to take extremely high-resolution images, with substantially lower background light than ground-based telescopes. **Hubble has recorded some of the most detailed visible light images ever, allowing a deep view into space and time.**"

Dark_Solar
5 / 5 (3) May 07, 2017
@Solon

My statement is based on the experiences of the Apollo astronauts who were actually on the Moon, but , as with their statements that no stars were visible, their statements have been brushed aside with excuses such as the bright lunar surface and dark adaptation, which they themselves never mentioned.


This statement is a figurative double-edged blade; if stars weren't visible due to lack of atmosphere then the moon's surface would also not have been visible due to lack of atmosphere. You can't have it both ways --more to the point, the rules of photonic propagation at macro-scales are not arbitrary.

Also, you can disprove H.W. Webster's hypothesis yourself with a pvc vacuum chamber, a digital camera and an led light that runs on mains current. According to H.W. Webster's hypothesis, under vacuum, the led light should not be visible to the camera. You will find that not only is it visible, it is brighter.
Solon
1 / 5 (3) May 07, 2017
"So what are you on about the sensitivity of navcams? They aren't used in space"

One more time:
The NAVCAM (Navigation Camera) functions are to provide optical
information to support Rosetta spacecraft navigation through
the asteroid detection, close approach and fly-by phases and
the comet nucleus detection, close approach and escort phases.

Summary of NAVCAM Characteristics (same for CAM-A and B)

Wavelength range (nm):
550 - 850
https://naif.jpl....M_V01.TI

It uses no filters, so the images of 67P could all be in the IR
Solon
1 / 5 (3) May 07, 2017
"I suspect you may be missing or deliberately ignoring/denying the point; the Hubble Space Telescope is an optical (i.e. conventional) telescope."

No it isn't. Lyman Spitzer had to wait nearly 50 years for Hubble to fly. What is so difficult about putting a telescope in space?

"Also, you can disprove H.W. Webster's hypothesis yourself with a pvc vacuum chamber, a digital camera and an led light that runs on mains current. According to H.W. Webster's hypothesis, under vacuum, the led light should not be visible to the camera. You will find that not only is it visible, it is brighter."

Once the type of light that our eyes can see is created then it will fall off at a known rate, through a vacuum even. Outside of an atmosphere there is nothing to create the light, there is no visible light coming from the Sun. You can create photons from the solar radiation by using a grating, either pinhole or slit, which is what the Sun Sensors do .
Dark_Solar
5 / 5 (4) May 07, 2017
@Solon

So you're assertion is that the Hubble Space Telescope is not an optical telescope even NASA publicly states that it is, even though its blueprints clearly show that it is, even though it has been recording visible light images of the universe for 27 years?

As far as why it took fifty years to get the HST into space --other objectives take precedence, funding must be approved, funding must be allocated after approval, after funding is allocated, a thing must be built, after that thing has been built it must be tested, after that thing has been tested it must be cleaned, sterilized, packaged for transport into space...in short, bureaucracy and operation proceedure. Enough with the obvious dodging, sir.

You have cited H.W. Webster's hypothesis as your underlying premise and shot yourself in the foot; a slit/pinhole/grate merely acts as means of diffraction and not as an excitable medium.
Solon
1 / 5 (3) May 08, 2017
Hubble is much like a conventional telescope, but when you spend the time to look into the fine details, you find there are none. It is to do with wavefront decoding in order to create photons that the detectors can make use of. How Hubble works is classified, and the oftware that allows for the eye candy to be created is too.
The Sun sensor acts also to create light from the solar radiation, enough of the wavefront must be made to fall on the sensor for it to emit an electron. I'll point you to some good MIT lectures if you like.
The Reason took so long to be launched is that it required time to be able to create the science, the materials and the engineering capable of actually creating the 'lens', which was a combination grating, prism and phase plate all combined into one, but the tolerances had to be so exacting that even just for the lens glass there was over 90% rejection. The Star Trackers also used similar science, but were only looking at decoding one wavelength.
Solon
1 / 5 (3) May 08, 2017
This page has some good discussion on electron transition heating:
https://physics.s...-or-heat
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (4) May 08, 2017
So you're assertion is that the Hubble Space Telescope is not an optical telescope even NASA publicly states that it is,

Pshaw...what do the people who designed and built this stuff know about it? Some internet poster is certainly far more qualified.
skystare
5 / 5 (1) May 08, 2017
A more global theory to explain Solon's "physics" is that he is just here to yank everyone's chains.
Dark_Solar
5 / 5 (4) May 08, 2017
A more global theory to explain Solon's "physics" is that he is just here to yank everyone's chains.


Yes, I've been paying close attention to how Solon pivots and runs in a different direction when anyone pins him down on a subject...full-on Kellyanne. At this point, he's quibbling over the sensor that is effectively the HST's eyepiece trying to justify his claim that it isn't an optical telescope.

And that bit about there being no visible light in space and also how the light on the moon has no heat. So which is it? No light in space or the light doesn't have heat? More hogwash, apparently. Clearly, he's either not thinking it through from the fusion core of the sun all the way to the corona or he's deliberately positing misinformation/outright falsehood in an attempt to put and keep himself as the center of attention.

O well...suffering fools and trolls is the price that must be paid to have free exchange of thoughts and ideas.
Solon
1 / 5 (2) May 08, 2017

"And that bit about there being no visible light in space and also how the light on the moon has no heat."

There is a method called empirical science that could prove or disprove my assertions but I am told my claims are too ridiculous to warrant scientific investigation. When I can be PROVEN wrong, I'll shut up.

TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (2) May 08, 2017
"With a 2.4-meter (7.9 ft) mirror, Hubble's four main instruments observe in the... visible"

-Sure sounds like optical to me.

You take up a lot of thread space to avoid admitting that youre wrong dont you?

How about this?

"A reflecting telescope (also called a reflector) is an optical telescope which uses a single or combination of curved mirrors that reflect light and form an image."

-Anything yet?
Solon
1 / 5 (1) May 08, 2017
Find me detailed specs on the Hubble optics then we can discuss science, not opinion.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (2) May 08, 2017
Find me detailed specs on the Hubble optics then we can discuss science, not opinion.
Argumentum ad complicatum. Try the internet retard.
Solon
1 / 5 (1) May 08, 2017
Argumentum ad hominem.

You try the internet, you might learn something.

Dark_Solar
5 / 5 (2) May 09, 2017
@GhostofOtto

Just let it go, Ghost; Solon has made his extraordinary claims and consistently failed to provide extraordinary proofs. He has also consistently ignored hard evidence which undermines and/or completely invalidates his assertions just so he can keep himself in the spotlight.

I've done the smart thing by selecting "ignore user" and you might strongly consider following suit. When no-one will pay attention any longer, this troll will have to slink back under his bridge. And don't worry about him socking, he'll be easy to spot no matter what name he's using.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (1) May 16, 2017
When no-one will pay attention any longer, this troll will have to slink back under his bridge. And don't worry about him socking,...
@Dark_Solar
yes and no

not only do they already have multiple socks, typically, but they're not here for the attention they get from you

that is just the icing allowing them to justify their persecution and conspiracy beliefs

the reason they come is to spread misinformation in order to seek like minded people willing to overlook reality for a belief

no religion has ever just decided to slink away

they either have to be killed off (religious wars) or they eventually die due to fracturing (splintering of beliefs), beliefs (like Catharism) or outright stupidity (flat earthers - note that there is a resurgence in this today, so that last one is debatable to a degree)

pseudoscience, conspiracy theory are not victimless crimes
https://phys.org/...mes.html

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