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An ESA Discovery & Preparation study explored how lunar regolith – the dust, soil and rock on the Moon’s surface – could be used to store heat and provide electricity for future astronauts, rovers and landers. The study involved creating an artificial regolith brick; such bricks could offer a way of storing daytime solar energy so that electricity can be produced at night.
The team pumped energy into their imitation lunar regolith to see how well it could store heat. They also connected it to a heat engine to create electricity using the energy stored inside it.
Any Moon-based technology would face incredibly tough conditions – long nights, temperatures ranging from -173°C to 127°C and extremely low pressures. The conditions were mimicked as best as possible using a vacuum chamber to create a ‘Moon-like’ environment for the brick.