Monday, August 9, 2010

The Dust Management Project

Apollo 16 Beta Cloth Sample (69003). Surface contact sampling method. "It appears the uppermost surface is enriched in fine grains compared to the bulk soil," wrote Dr. Sarah Noble. The earliest direct lunar observations showed evidence of active micrometeor "gardening" and/or dynamic electromagnetic charging, levitation and ballistic migration [NASA/JSC/MSFC].

Mark Hyatt (NASA/Glenn) & Sharon Strake (NASA/GSFC)
AIAA, 40th International
Conference on Environmental Systems
Barcelona, 11-15 July 2010

A return to the Moon to extend human presence, pursue scientific activities, use the Moon to prepare for future human missions to Mars, and expand Earth’s economic sphere, will require investment in developing new technologies and capabilities to achieve affordable and sustainable human exploration. From the operational experience gained and lessons learned during the Apollo missions, conducting long-term operations in the lunar environment will be a particular challenge, given the difficulties presented by the unique physical properties and other characteristics of lunar regolith, including dust.

The Apollo missions and other lunar explorations have identified significant lunar dust-related problems that will challenge future mission success. Comprised of regolith particles ranging in size from tens of nanometers to microns, lunar dust is a manifestation of the complex interaction of the lunar surface with multiple mechanical, electrical, and gravitational effects. The environmental and anthropogenic factors effecting the perturbation, transport, and deposition of lunar dust must be studied in order to mitigate it’s potentially harmful effects on exploration systems and human explorers.

The Dust Management Project (DMP) is tasked with the evaluation of lunar dust effects, assessment of the resulting risks, and development of mitigation and management strategies and technologies related to Exploration Systems architectures.

Lotus Coating. Just one dust mitigation strategy examined by the Dust Management Project. An uncoated radiator sample and a Lotus coated radiator sample after contamination with JSC-1 Lunar simulant.

By pursuing an integrated approach of characterization, technology development, and application focus, the DMP has made significant progress in the first three years of implementation.

The project provides coordination and integration of dust related activities in (the NASA Exploration System Mission Directorate) ESMD, with a focus on the dust related challenges associated with long duration lunar missions.

The project has established a comprehensive body of data and experience and defined and filled key gaps in knowledge and capabilities. The project has developed specific technologies useful in the mitigation and control of dust and its effects on systems. New simulants are now becoming available to assess mitigation technologies and approaches as well as perform test and verification of components and systems.

Critical information and technology deliverables will be provided directly to Exploration flight (Lunar Precursor Robotic and Constellation) programs. Lunar dust should be viewed as integrated environmental phenomena, the study of which must employ a coordinated, multidisciplinary approach. The Dust Management Project will certainly include elements exploiting theoretical studies, earth-bound experiments, key measurements conducted by early robotic missions, and development of “best design” rules and specific engineering solutions for systems and their components affected by lunar dust.

Read the paper (pdf), HERE.

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