The feasibility of extended exploration and human presence on the Moon and Mars depends critically on dealing with various environmental factors, and especially on the effects of dust. One of the most restricting facets of lunar surface exploration, as experienced by the prior Apollo landed missions, is the fine lunar dust, its high adherence, and its restrictive friction-like action. Moreover, the lunar dust particle size distribution extends generally into the submicron range, where it could potentially have toxic effects on exposed astronauts through their respiratory system. MoonDust is a project being performed in collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency to study the effects of lunar dust on optics and mechanical elements, and to develop innovative nano-filtration solutions to extend their operational lifetime within a lunar and/or Mars environment. To assist this work, a small lunar environment simulation vacuum chamber is being developed at MPBC, to enable the study of lunar dust effects on optics elements and rotary mechanisms, at pressures brought down below 10-5 Torr. The developed simulator includes an injection system for lunar dust simulants, an excimer UV laser-light source for vacuum UV (VUV), and various diagnostic ports for relevant optical and electrical measurements. The MoonDust innovative dust mitigation solution exploits key characteristics of the lunar dust while incorporating nano-filtration technologies based on carbon nanotubes (CNT) materials. The aim is to minimize the required consumables while providing high capacity and high efficiencies for the more dangerous submicron particles. This paper reports on the development of the lunar environmental chamber and the associated lunar dust simulator. Some of the preliminary trial experimental results for filters based on CNTs for optical devices and rotary mechanical joint protection are also presented.

40th International Conference on Environmental Systems, ICES 2010
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Kruzelecky, R.V. (Roman V.), Wong, B. (Brian), Aïssa, B. (Brahim), Haddad, E. (Emile), Jamroz, W. (Wes), Cloutis, E. (Edward), … Ellery, A. (2010). Moondust lunar dust simulation and mitigation. In 40th International Conference on Environmental Systems, ICES 2010.