DTVAC Dusty Planetary Thermo-VACuum Simulator Commissioning and LN2 Upgrade


The lunar and Mars planetary surface environments can have a significant impact on the operation and performance of landed assets such as landers, rovers, supporting robotics, ISRU processors and science instruments. Verification of the performance and reliability of critical subsystems under high-fidelity simulated planetary surface conditions is needed to ensure their successful operation on the lunar or Martian surface. The DTVAC facility combines a controlled dust simulant shower in vacuum with simulated solar illumination and thermal control of the test device from below -60oC to above +60oC. The system design includes a controlled large-area planetary dust simulant dispenser and electrostatic charger. A temperature-controlled platen can accommodate various test devices up to in volume, including surface (solar cells), optical, and mechanical (motors, rotary) assemblies. The MPBC Planetary DTVAC will be used to validate the operation of relevant payloads and processes under simulated lunar or Mars surface environmental conditions, including: • Day/night temperatures ( -173°C to  60°C), depending on the selected coolant, • Software-controlled dispersion rates of charged dust, • Illumination to 1000 W/m2 with simulated solar spectrum, • Planetary atmospheric pressures (10-4 Torr (with dust) to 10-7 Torr relevant to the Moon and 3 to 12 Torr CO2 relevant to Mars). The goal is to provide extended continuous testing over periods exceeding 14 terrestrial days, equivalent to operation over a lunar day or night. In the preliminary DTVAC commissioning, 21 days of continuous DTVAC relevant operations was successfully achieved based on script-based computer control.

This paper discusses the preliminary commissioning and the LN2 cooling upgrade of the Dusty Thermo-Vacuum (DTVAC) planetary environment simulator.


The DTVAC facility development has been financially assisted by the Canadian Space Agency. Special thanks to Daniel Lefebvre, Michel Wanderer, Elie Choueiry and Tongxi Wu for their helpful criticisms and suggestions


Roman Kruzelecky, MPB Communications Inc.
Piotr Murzionak, MPB Communications Inc.
Jonathan Lavoie, MPB Communications Inc
Martin Mena, MPB Communications Inc.
Jacob Heapy, MPB Communications Inc.
Ian Sinclair, MPB Communications Inc.
Gregory Schinn, MPB Communications Inc.
Edward Cloutis, University of Winnipeg
Nadeem Ghafoor, Canadensys Aerospace Corp.
Josh Newman, Canadensys Aerospace Corp.
ICES510: Planetary and Spacecraft Dust Properties and Mitigation Technologies
The 48th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA on 08 July 2018 through 12 July 2018.


Dusty Thermal Vacuum Chamber, Planetary surface environment, Dust simulant dispersion and charging, Lunar near-surface, Mars near-surface