The University of Central Florida (UCF) and Deep Space Industries (DSI) have partnered under a Phase II NASA Small Business Incentive Research (SBIR) program award to develop and produce a family of asteroid simulants. Asteroid simulants are needed for a range of asteroid-related exploration projects including In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) technology development, spacecraft instrument development, and spacecraft mechanism testing. The Phase I project developed a prototype simulant based on the mineralogy and texture of CI carbonaceous chondrites, provided the prototype simulant to a number of NASA and ISRU projects for testing and validation, and conducted workshops and surveys to assess customer needs. UCF provided the scientific background for the selections of the simulant source minerals and recipes, as well as procurement, facilities, and testing services. DSI concentrated on processing the source materials into appropriate forms, physical characteristics, and textures needed to simulate asteroid boulders and regoliths
The guiding principles for this development are: (1) Use meteorite mineralogy, particle size, and texture as a guideline. (2) Maximize fidelity to the meteorites subject to the limitations of available terrestrial materials, costs, and safety for the customers. During Phase II we will be developing additional simulants based on CM, CR, CV, and L-chondrite meteorites. We will also be manufacturing large quantities of simulants based on customer demand.