Standard Include starts
NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Follow this link to skip to the main content
+ NASA Home
+ S&MS Home

+ Home


  +  Publications

  +  Simulant Development

      +  Logic of Program

      +  Igneous Rocks

      +  Simulant Documents

  +  Molten Oxide Electrolysis

  +  Role of Regolith

  +  Meet the Project Scientist

  +  Our Workshops

  +  Links

  +  ISFR

  +  Fabrication Technologies

  +  Repair & NDE Technologies

  +  Technologies Archive

  +  Other Links

+ Science & Mission Systems
+ Exploration & Space Ops
+ Vision For Exploration
+ Watch NASA TV
+ Marshall Space Flight Center
+ Want to work at NASA?

Lunar Regolith Simulant Dev & Characterization

Simulant Development


moonOne of the first lunar simulants after Project Apollo, Minnesota Lunar Simulant (MLS-1), appeared in the 1970s and 80s. In the 1990s researchers at Johnson Space Center (JSC) developed an alternative lunar simulant called JSC-1. Other simulants emerged, but like JSC-1 most are basaltic in composition. They were intended to model the regions of the Moon called "Mare." Mare, the Latin term for "seas", are the dark areas on the face of the Moon. While trying to simulate a single region of the Moon, the different simulants had different properties.

  • Establish a common set of standards for simulant materials
  • Develop a process for the development, production and certification of simulant materials
  • Develop a long-term simulant acquisition strategy
  • Proceed as quickly as possible with a unified, near-term simulant acquisition through a immediate redeployment of Lunar mare simulant JSC1
  • Workshop Report (NASA/TP-2006-214605) available

JSC-1 has since been depleted, so MSFC has funded a small business, Orbitec to create a replica called JSC-1A. It comes in three types based on grain size (fine, medium and coarse). As of May 2007 over 10 tons of JSC-1A and 1 ton of JSC-1AF simulant has been dispersed to different customers and more is still in production.

Technology Landscape
  • Traceable standards for simulants are required for comparative testing and equipment qualification
    • The risk of testing with simulants that provide incomplete or false data is real
    • Several organizations (industry, government and academia) have produced simulants (NASA, Japan, NORCAT, others)
    • No one has generated a standard or method by which to measure the "goodness" of various simulants
  • The process of creating reliable Lunar simulants from terrestrial material is not trivial
    • Milling of terrestrial materials to achieve the correct grain size, distribution and density is influenced by many factors (proper material selection, mill availability, contaminates, weather, etc)
    • Obtaining the correct mineralogy, chemistry, and geotechnical aspects of the simulant requires careful selection of minerals, milling and blending
  • Standards for new Lunar simulants will be influenced by data yet to be obtained from future Lunar robotic and human missions
    • Will capture data once received and update knowledge base
  • NASA partners include world class scientists and engineers from the government, academia and industry

Logic of the MSFC Simulant Development Program

For more information, please contact:
ISFR/ISRU/Dust Project Manager: Carole A. McLemore
(256) 544-2314

MORE INFO IN NASA SITE NETWORK - Your First Click to the US Government

+ Freedom of Information Act
+ The President's Management Agenda
+ NASA Privacy Statement, Disclaimer & Accessibility Certification

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Curator: Anthony Goodeill
NASA Official: Carole McLemore