Exploring Electrostatic Regolith Interactions in Low-gravity

PI: Adrienne Dove, Josh Colwell (Co-I), University of Central Florida

Any surface operations on the Moon will encounter a ubiquitous hazard: dust. To understand the properties of lunar dust—including charge exchange from rolling/sliding interactions during surface operations (i.e., tribocharging)—this experiment will explore electrostatic regolith interactions in low gravity. By applying various electric fields to a dust simulant in microgravity, researchers hope to characterize regolith’s charging dynamics and behavior. The insights gained are expected to enhance safety as well as drive requirements for lunar and other missions.

Technology Areas (?)
  • TA06 Human Health, Life Support and Habitation Systems
  • TA07 Human Exploration Destination Systems
Problem Statement

Not only may lunar dust grains already have an electrostatic charge, they also may experience a charge exchange during any rolling or sliding interactions. Therefore, it is relevant to understand dusty surfaces for robotic and human lunar surface mobility, landing and plume effects, in-situ resource utilization (ISRU), and basic science applications. This technology combines dust motion chambers, regolith simulant, and tribocharging sensors. In this experiment, researchers will validate the hardware in a vacuum and low gravity and then compare with ground test data.

Technology Maturation

Few models correctly predict lunar surface charging and the resulting particle dynamics. This technology will advance from TRL 4 to 7 upon a successful demonstration.

Future Customers

Lunar exploration
Planetary science

Technology Details

  • Selection Date
    TechFlights19 (Oct 2019)
  • Program Status
  • Current TRL (?)
    Successful FOP Flights
  • 0 sRLV

Development Team

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