The Electrodynamic Dust Shield

Electrodynamic Dust Shield – History

It is now accepted that “Dust is the Number 1 environmental problem on the moon”. Strategies and engineering ingenuity to manage and mitigate such problems require understanding of the properties and physics that causes lunar dust to behave as the Apollo astronauts discovered[1]

One of the most significant problems with lunar dust is its electric charge which causes it to stick to most surfaces. The Electrodynamic Dust Shield (EDS) turns this problem to its advantage, using it to get rid of the dust.  The Kennedy Space Center Electrostatics and Surface Physics Lab has been working to implement this novel technology and test it both on the Earth and Moon.

In 1967, the idea behind the EDS was described by a NASA employee in a paper on possible strategies for dust removal. The technology was further developed in the 1970s by Senichi Masuda of the University of Tokyo, who was researching pollution filters[2]. Masuda’s device, called the “electric curtain”, was very similar to what NASA needed for the lunar dust problem because both devices were for mitigation of charged particles. Masuda was not interested in space application and ended up shifting focus towards electrostatic precipitators. In 2003, Kennedy Space Center (KSC), under the leadership of Dr. Carlos Calle, teamed up with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and won a NASA Research Announcement (NRA) award[3]. For 4 years they continued developing Masuda’s electric curtain with the goal of protecting solar panels on Mars. After that grant ended, because NASA had been discussing missions to the Moon, KSC began thinking about how to apply their research to lunar problems. Lunar dust sticking to space suits and electronics was the problem the EDS technology was originally introduced to solve. Because of the similarities of the soil on Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii to that of Mars and the Moon, KSC is now working with PISCES of Hawaii to facilitate their research.

Read More   Electrodynamic Dust Shield – Operation

Pioneering the Study of Lunar Dust

PISCES Website

[1] NASA Sticky Moon Dust Data Preservation and Recovery Project – SpectrumData Pty Ltd 2012

[2] Lunar Dust Buster

[3] Dr. Carlos Calle, Lead Scientist, Electrostatics and Surface Physics Lab, Kennedy Space Center, FL