A Ground Testing Program to Verify Lunar Dust-Tolerant Hardware for the Artemis Mission
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In preparation for NASA's Artemis Mission that will return humans to the surface of moon by 2024, an extensive test campaign will be undertaken to understand the effects of lunar dust contamination on equipment. Historically, early Apollo astronauts were affected by lunar dust that entered the cabin after their extravehicular activities, and subsequent missions had various cleaning protocols to reduce the impact of the contamination. The longest stays on the lunar surface were Apollo 15, 16, and 17 (just over three days), so equipment and suits were required to operate reliably for a relatively short duration. The ultimate goal of Artemis is a sustained human presence on the lunar surface, beginning with Artemis 3 which targets a six and a half day surface deployment. This requires the design and testing of dust-tolerant infrastructure. Ground testing with lunar dust simulants in a specialized chamber is an inexpensive way to verify the performance of equipment. Chambers equipped with various powder dispersers and analysis instrumentation can explore a variety of realistic scenarios relevant to lunar surface missions, from the interaction of dust with sensitive surfaces such as solar panels, textiles, radiators, and scientific equipment, to the effects of dust as it intrudes into habitable areas. These experiments require careful consideration of the expected mass concentrations, aerosolization methods, and transport properties of dust. Instruments that use light scattering techniques to measure mass concentrations require calibration against lunar simulants for improved accuracy, and different simulants may have different calibration factors. Test facilities, laboratory setup and test methods for aerosolizing lunar simulant will be described along with relevant aerosol instruments and calibration efforts.