Planetary Simulant Database: NAO-1 National Astronomical Observatories

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Mineral Volume %
Feldspar 60
Pyroxene + Hornblende 19.2
Opaque + Glass 20.8

Bulk Chemistry

Oxide Wt.%
SiO2 43.83
TiO2 0.77
Al2O3 25.79
FeO 3.52
Fe2O3 2.62
MnO 0.09
MgO 4.93
CaO 15.12
Na2O 1.41
K2O 0.47
P2O5 0.08
LOI 1.10
Total 99.71

Physical Properties

Property Value
Mean grain size 53-81 μm
Median grain size 41-61 μm
Specific gravity 2.92
Internal friction angle 46.57
Cohesion 95.3 kPa
Simulant Name: NAO-1 National Astronomical Observatories
Current Status: Unknown
Developed By: NAO, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Available From: N/A
Publications: Li, Y., J. Liu, and Z. Yue (2009). NAO-1: Lunar Highland Soil Simulant Developed in China. Journal of Aerospace Engineering, 22, 53-57.

NAO-1 is a general purpose highlands simulant developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. It is designed to match the mineralogy and chemistry of Apollo 16 soils, and was sourced from gabbro mined on the north bank of Yarlung Zangbo River in Tibet. The simulant consists mostly of calcic plagioclase and pyroxene from the gabbro.

To make the simulant, part of the gabbro was fired to a glass. This glass was re-mixed with the crystalline gabbro and comminuted to achieve the desired particle size distribution. Li et al. (2009) claim that 80 kg was stored in the Laboratory of Lunar and Deep Space Exploration Center of the NAO and is available upon request from Professor Liu. It isn’t clear how much, if any, still exists.


A photomicrograph of the gabbro used to produce NAO-1. From Li et al. (2009)

Other Lunar Highlands Simulants
MLS-2 | NAO-1 | NU-LHT-1M/2M/3M/1D/2C | OB-1