PUFFER-Oriented Compact Cleaning and Excavation Tool (POCCET) Dust Removal Tool

PI: Kris Zacny, Honeybee Robotics Ltd. - Brooklyn

The PUFFER-Oriented Compact Cleaning and Excavation Tool (POCCET) demonstration will assess the viability of a miniature dust removal tool designed to mount on small rovers, such as the PUFFER platform developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. On Mars and the Moon, regolith and dust cover rocky outcrops that must be cleared to provide accurate analysis of the samples beneath. Current dust removal technology is limited, relying on techniques that use physical contact and are ineffective in the vacuum of space. POCCET uses an effective pneumatic dust removal technique to rapidly “blow” dust away at a fractionally small mass.

Technology Areas (?)
  • NA
Problem Statement

Regolith and dust cover rocky outcrops on the Moon and Mars that must be cleared to provide accurate analysis of the samples beneath. Most current dust removal technology relies on brushes, rasps, or other removal techniques that use physical contact. In many circumstances, this technology is ineffective due to the dominance of electrostatic forces in vacuum conditions. Ultra-small rovers cannot carry the large batteries and actuators for such operations. To send more spacecraft to new places on the Moon, smaller spacecraft and mobility systems will be used. A miniature tool designed for mounting on small rovers, POCCET uses compressed gas to rapidly remove dust from the scientifically important subsurface of rocks, regolith-covered ices, key equipment such as solar panels, and sealing surfaces. Weighing less than 300 grams with potential for further mass reduction, POCCET could be used not just on the Moon, but on other solar system bodies, such as asteroids, comets, and Mars.

Technology Maturation

Flight tests are expected to prove dust removal capability in a partial-gravity environment. The researchers will be able to address feedback provided by simulating lunar gravity in suborbital flights and using regolith simulant. With the technology currently at TRL 5, the flight tests will indicate performance in a relevant environment and allow the researchers to make any further design refinements needed.

Future Customers

• Small payload developers for lunar/Martian missions • Lunar missions to clean scientific equipment • Solar panels and dust-sensitive hardware for space missions and on Earth (e.g., solar farms in desert conditions)

Technology Details

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

Development Team

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