Warsaw scientist looking to take moon surface materials to build lunar base

Dr. Karol Seweryn of the Space Research Centre at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw is hoping to discover how regolith can be obtained from the surface of the Moon. Bartłomiej Zborowski/PAP

Warsaw scientists are looking into how to obtain regolith from the surface of the Moon, which could potentially be used to build lunar bases one day.

Regolith is a layer of loose deposits covering solid rock on the surface of the Earth and Moon, as well as certain other celestial bodies.

The word itself comes from two Greek words: “rhegos” (blanket) and “lithos” (rock). On the Moon, its thickness can vary from around 5 metres to 10 metres on highland surfaces.

Some scientists have suggested that regolith could be used to build bases on the moon in the future, as it would be expensive – or even impossible – for humans to take all the necessary materials with them from Earth.Kalbar/TFN

Some scientists have suggested that regolith could be used to build bases on the moon in the future, as it would be expensive – or even impossible – for humans to take all the necessary materials with them from Earth. This principle is known as In-Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU).

Now, a project led by Dr. Karol Seweryn of the Space Research Centre at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw is hoping to discover how regolith can be obtained from the surface of the Moon.

As the researchers wrote in their grant application: “Compared to the current approach to transporting materials and equipment from Earth, ISRU reduces the total cost of space missions and the associated risks.”

The word regolith comes from two Greek words: “rhegos” (blanket) and “lithos” (rock). On the Moon, its thickness can vary from around 5 metres to 10 metres on highland surfaces.Public domain

A team at the University of Warmia and Mazury led by Professor Jacek Katzer will research technology for processing regolith to turn it into a durable material that could be used to build lunar bases.

Professor Katzer said: “The success of this project will actually show to what extent it is possible to function beyond our planet: being on the moon, then on Mars, etc. 

“If our research confirms that the regolith covering the entire surface of the Moon can be widely used to enable and facilitate our extraterrestrial functioning, it will be a real breakthrough."