Date of Award

Spring 2022

Degree Type

Publishable Paper

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Geological Engineering

Committee Chair

Mohammed Sadeghi

First Advisor

Glenn Shaw

Second Advisor

Abhishek Choudhury


There is a need for a stable, efficient, and cost-effective option of a terrestrial lunar regolith simulant that can be easily made and at a lower cost to the consumer. A lunar regolith is the layer of unconsolidated rocky material covering bedrock that is on planets. All simulants fabricated for the moon, are based off three types of lunar regolith areas. The first is the lunar highlands which are the high areas of the moon, these areas are anthracitic. The second is lunar mare which is the meteoroid bombarded areas of the moon that look like dark grey areas from earth, these areas are basaltic. The third is lunar dust and miscellaneous lunar regolith. While the amount of lunar regolith material that was brought back to Earth is, considered to be plentiful, with the new “space race,” there is not enough material to share with individual companies to evaluate the new equipment that is being built to study the planets in our universe. Today all simulants are created by using the duplicated characteristics of the lunar materials brought back from the moon. There are different regolith simulants that are made for different planets like Mars and Venus. Having a common test site or a site where simulant is already in place and that meets the standards of the lunar regolith that returned to Earth. Thereby allowing companies to bring their new equipment and machinery to evaluate on site, this would be more efficient and cost effective than what is currently offered. In this study a new potential material was examined to be used as lunar regolith simulant. Laboratory tests were conducted to investigate whether using a water-cooled copper slag is a practical alternative for a terrestrial based lunar regolith simulant compared to what is currently being offered in the scientific community and private sector. This study showed that using the water-cooled copper slag is possible according to the data found vs the data standards given by NASA. Using USCS the classification of the water-cooled slag would be GW (gravel well sorted) while classified by AASHTO it is, A-1-a (Granular materials are 35% or less total sample passing No. 200. The relative soil density testing shows that the sample to vary from loose to very dense, the guidelines were medium to dense to very dense. Bulk density showed the data to be right in the middle of the standards given. Specific mass of solids testing determined the specific mass of solids were a little higher than the guidelines, but the number is < 0.1. Deciding unit weight had to be completed using the gravity of earth first then reconfigured to the moon gravity which is 1/6 that of earth the data was within standards. Cohesion testing determined data is .99 kPa and the NASA standards require 0.1 to 1 kPa. Friction angle testing was measured to be 48º the lunar regolith standard measures at 30º to 50º. The ultimate bearing capacity which is the amount of weight the soil can hold before failure the standard is 25 – 55 kPa testing shows the copper slag to be at the following: Continuous (15 kPa) like a small structure, Square (46 kPa) a landing pad, and Circular (45 kPa) the landing gear of shuttles. NASA requires 25–55 kPa, and the intercrater areas to be < 25 kPa the data was found using Terzaghi bearing capacity formulas. Permeability testing data showed that the water flowed freely after soaking the sample.


A Publishable Research Paper submitted as partial degree of Masters of Science in Geological Engineering.