Lunar In-Situ Resource Utilization focuses on extracting oxygen as well as other commodities from the lunar regolith. The experimental design will be implemented to test the feasibility of oxygen extraction from the regolith via molten silicate electrolysis.
The experiment will be conducted over a one month period in the south polar region of the moon. The functional modes of the experimental package will designate the sequence of operational tasks. These modes include transit, initialization and calibration, acquiring regolith, measurement and analysis, purification, and standby. A robotic arm will be used to extract regolith samples from the lunar surface.
The extraction of oxygen from the regolith will be preformed through molten silicate electrolysis. This reaction has been chosen for this experiment because of the high concentration of silicates in the lunar regolith, its relatively high efficiency, and the ease of separation of oxygen from byproducts as compared to other candidate reactions.
The reaction chamber is designed to separate conductive from non-conductive components of the lunar regolith. The conductive sample is then reacted via molten silicate electrolysis and oxygen is collected. The oxygen is then purified and waste is disposed from the reaction chamber.