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Seismic While Drilling (SWD) methodology in support to Moon subsurface stratigraphy investigations
The knowledge of the Moon subsoil geophysical properties is of great importance for scientific reasons, for development of Lunar exploration activities and envisaged exploitation of planetary resources. The Moon surface is characterized by the presence of regolith, a powdered material made up by unconsolidated, porous and highly brecciated rock fragments of several different grain sizes and lithologies. Beneath the regolith, a transition zone showing higher acoustic velocities, may be present down to the solid bedrock. The bedrock consists of basaltic layers characterised by high seismic velocity and low seismic attenuation. In these conditions, human civil engineering and rover activities, including drilling may be subject to risk due to the lack of knowledge of the complex subsoil properties. Seismic while drilling is a method used on Earth to support from geophysical point of view drilling for oil and gas and geothermal exploration. In this application, the characterization of the stratigraphy by vertical seismic profiles in the drilled section, providing seismic images of the to be drilled substructures, is obtained using the drill-bit radiated energy. We present the result of a project that studies the adaptation of the method for Lunar drilling purposes, taking into account the specific issues related to the Moon environment and remote communication aspects. The results of a laboratory test conducted in the framework of a European Space Agency project with a planetary drill prototype and a simulator of a complete remote system are presented and discussed together with the perspectives for the seismic-while-drilling application for planetary missions.
Magnani Piergiovanni, Poletto Flavio, Gelmi Rolando, Corubolo Piero, Re Edoardo, Schleifer Andrea, Perrone Antonio, Salonicco Antonio, Coste Pierre
Paper for Specialistic Magazine
Acta Astronautica Magazine
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