Dust Mitigation Solutions for Lunar and Mars Surface Systems 2007-01-3213
Dust mitigation has been identified as a major obstacle to lunar and Mars surface operations for space suits, robotics, and vehicle systems. Experience from the Apollo program has demonstrated that lunar stays of limited duration will be difficult and dangerous if dramatic measures are not taken to mitigate the impacts of dust contamination. Numerous mitigation approaches have been studied in the past including electrostatic materials, cleaning techniques, and suit-locks. Many of these approaches are effective in operation but are challenged by the trend of returning to a single space suit system, similar to Apollo, which is used for launch/entry as well as surface and contingency extra-vehicular activity (EVA) operations. Bringing the surface suit inside the vehicle after surface EVA will transfer surface material in the vehicle. Studies are currently ongoing to identify containment methods of isolating the space suit or robotics elements from the surface dust during EVA operations through the use of removable covers. This approach not only protects the underlying components from dust contamination but also precludes the transfer of dust into the vehicle or habitat. Similar containment analogs are employed everyday throughout the world when using chemical, biological, or radiological protective equipment in the military and various industries. Prototype covers for the space suit have been designed and tested to create robust durable covers that protect the suit from degradation without encumbering mobility, while also being simple to don & doff. Accompanying procedures, such as removing the covers just outside the airlock, will keep the dust off the underlying space suit and therefore prevent it from entering the vehicle. The covers may also include any dust mitigating materials advances such as lotus-effect coatings as they evolve, simplifying certification and life-cycle impacts of the underlying space suit. First order system level trades have been conducted on various technical approaches. Results of the trade studies, discussion of the analogs that are in existence and prototype testing will be presented in the paper.