Jim Browning, Don Plumlee, Arvin Farid, and Sin Ming Loo
The behavior of dust, or regolith, on Mars and the moon is critical to our understanding of the Martian and lunar environments. The dust interaction with space suits and other equipment is a major concern for long term space missions. Dust on the moon greatly deteriorated the space suits in NASA’s Apollo program. We have developed a test enclosure for the study of dust motion. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has developed a Particle Image Velocimeter (PIV) to measure the velocity and size of thousands of moving particles. The PIV was developed as a demonstration project for use on possible future NASA missions to Mars, the moon, or even asteroids. A controllable and stable simulation environment accommodating this PIV device was needed to collect data on the PIV performance. The “Dust Box” is designed to contain the PIV, provide the ability to collect stable and accurate data, and have flexibility to run many different experimental configurations. These configurations involve applying an electric field to deflect charged dust particles by using two biased copper plates, changing the dust flow patterns, and controlling the dust flow rates. We are currently studying particle velocity and charged particle behavior. Lunar and Martian soil simulants (JSC-1/JSC Mars-1) along with standard sand are used in this experiment in order to get the most precise results possible. These experiments will provide a better understanding of regolith behavior and will help verify the ability of the PIV to measure accurately the size and velocity of thousands of dust particles.