Monday, February 9, 2009

Lunar Dust Activity at Glenn

Kenneth W. Street (NASA Glenn Research Center) - NASA Lunar Dust Filtration and Separations Workshop, Cleveland, November 2008 - The fidelity of lunar simulants as compared to actual regolith is evaluated using Figures of Merit (FOM) which are based on four criteria: Particle Size, Particle Shape, Composition, and Density of the bulk material.

In practice, equipment testing will require other information about both the physical properties (mainly of the dust fraction) and composition as a function of particle size. At Glenn Research Center (GRC) we are involved in evaluating a number of simulant properties of consequence to testing of lunar equipment in a relevant environment, in order to meet Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6 criteria.

Bulk regolith has been characterized for many decades, but surprisingly little work has been done on the dust fraction (particles less than 20 micrometers in diameter). GRC is currently addressing the information shortfall by characterizing the following physical properties: Particle Size Distribution, Adhesion, Abrasivity, Surface Energy, Magnetic Susceptibility, Tribocharging and Surface Chemistry/Reactivity.

Since some of these properties are also dependent on the size of the particles we have undertaken the construction of a six stage axial cyclone particle separator to fractionate dust into discrete particle size distributions for subsequent evaluation of these properties. An introduction to this work and progress to date is available for download as a pdf HERE.

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