Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Report

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Advisor 1

Paul van Susante

Committee Member 1

Jeffrey Allen

Committee Member 2

Timothy Eisele


Permanently Shaded Regions (PSRs) are cold traps located around the lunar south pole that have been confirmed to contain possible interesting quantities or volatiles such as H2O, CO2, SO2, CH4, and others. [1] The identification of these volatiles on the lunar surface was a critical step in the development of NASA’s strategic goals for scientific discoveries, sustained space travel and exploration, and re-establishing a human presence on the moon. These volatiles are vital to the future of operating in and exploring space. The LCROSS impact revealed the existence of these resources in PSRs but more information is needed about the volatile quantities and distributions present in these cold traps before resource extraction missions can be designed. Determining the location and distribution of these resources can be accomplished through ground truthing and actively sampling the lunar surface. Currently, the primary methods of sampling or prospecting the lunar surface are drilling and core sampling. The Planetary Surface Technology Development Lab (PSTDL) at Michigan Technological University (MTU) has secured funding through NASA’s Lunar Surface Technology Research (LuSTR) 2020 initiative for proposing an alternative prospecting instrument called the Percussive Hot Cone Penetrometer (PHCP). Dynamic cone penetrometers are used in terrestrial applications to provide geotechnical information about soils. The PHCP seeks to combine a modified design of a dynamic cone penetrometer and thermal calorimetric measurements to identify strategic volatiles buried in the lunar regolith. Testing and development of the thermal measurement system for the PHCP are discussed in this report. Experimental testing was conducted to validate the methods by which volatile concentrations will be identified. These test results were utilized in the design of the PHCP and in the validation of a thermal model to predict weight percentages of volatiles based on observable temperature data. Detecting regions of volatile phase change allows for the concentration of the identifiable volatile to be estimated to be within ± 1 wt.%. The data collected and outlined in this report was used to determine a method for estimating the weight percentage of a mixed sample, and was successful in approximating the weight percentage of the test data, but requires further consideration to apply it successfully across more weight percentage mixtures and power levels. This report will cover the development of multiple experimental test campaigns, their respective results, and design implications, as well as the continued development of a thermal cone instrument for integrated PHCP testing and validation.