Modeling of Lunar Dust Contamination Due to Plume Impingement

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Woronowicz, Michael Stanley
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Historical data from the Apollo missions indicate the ubiquitous presence of lunar dust caused a number of troubling performance issues with mechanisms, optical devices, and thermal control devices, among other things [1]. Consequently, NASA Constellation program managers are interested in developing designs, techniques, and procedures to mitigate the deleterious effects of this material when men and women return to the Moon. One particular scenario involves Altair lander descent operations, where the lander's engine plume will disturb electrically charged lunar regolith particulates that may be attracted to the lander or equipment and habitats already on the surface nearby. Of special concern is that enough of these particles may find their way to thermal control surfaces to degrade their function to unacceptable levels. It is planned to use this model to study the influence of such effects as engine height above the Moon's surface, effect of thrust level, and thrust vector angle during descent and ascent operations as well as local electrical fields. Lunar dust size distribution and other properties will be considered to determine the fraction of particles of a given size transported to critical vertical and horizontal surfaces relative to the engine. The plume study will use a free molecule distributed point source model developed at NASA-GSFC and verified by comparisons to experimental data and direct simulation Monte Carlo analyses in an ongoing process [2,3]. The effect of electric fields on charged particle trajectories will follow a technique developed for the NASA Space Environments & Effect program [4]. References [1] David, L., "Lunar Explorers Face Moon Dust Dilemma", http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/061007_ moon_dust.html, retrieved 13 March 2008. [2] Woronowicz, M., Proceedings of the 22nd Intl. Symposium on Rarefied Gas Dynamics, American Institute of Physics, AIP Conf. Proceedings Vol. 585, Melville, NY, 798-805, 2001. [3] Woronowicz, M., Proceedings of the 24th Intl. Symposium on Rarefied Gas Dynamics, American Institute of Physics, AIP Conf. Proceedings Vol. 762, Melville, NY, 431-6, 2005. [4] Gordon, T., "Electrostatic Return Flux Prediction Tool User Manual," NASA-MSFC Space Environment & Effects program, 2 December 2002.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
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