Theoretical Approach to Quantify Effects of Lunar Dust Deposition on Radiator Performance for Moon Exploration Missions



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2023 International Conference on Environmental Systems


In this paper a set of theoretical equations is presented, derived from data published in the literature, which allow the conversion between lunar dust deposition rates and the modification of thermo-optical properties of radiators for lunar surface missions. This work is supporting the early design phases of Argonaut. Lunar dust and its effect on thermal control hardware is a large unknown when designing hardware for lunar surface missions. There are natural and artificial dust levitation and transport processes such as landing or roving vehicles or naturally occurring electrical charge differences. These cause the dust to move across the surface of the Moon and deposit. The smallest fraction of the sharp-edged small dust particles easily deposits on and adheres to technical surfaces, such as radiators or MLI. Literature on dust deposition is based on flight data and hence linked to natural lunar regolith, whereas the literature on radiator thermo-optical property modification is mostly based on tests performed with lunar dust simulant (LDS) materials. For both dust deposition and property modification, literature is scarce. The particle size distribution, density, particle shape, mineralogy, and thermo-optical properties of the natural and dust simulants differ and impact the conclusions. Solar absorptivity of radiators is more affected than its infrared emissivity. Applying the approach described in this paper, the data from literature leads to a modification factor for the solar absorptivity that varies from 1.1 to almost 5 for natural lunar dust deposition ranging from 140-840 µg/cm2, but depends on type of radiator coating, and radiator substrate. The same dust coverage rate of 25% can lead to modification factors for solar absorptivity that range from 1.4 @ 1790 µg/cm2 to 2.6 @ 840 µg/cm2, depending on the applied conversation from natural lunar dust to LDS and the selected material properties. The conducted study is meant as a first steppingstone toward design guidelines for thermal engineers for ‘dusted end-of-life’ properties for thermal control coatings.


Philipp B. Hager, European Space Agency(ESA), Netherlands
Adrian P. Tighe, European Space Agency(ESA), Netherlands
Fabrice W.S. Cipriani European Space Agency(ESA), Netherlands
Francesca McDonald European Space Agency(ESA), Netherlands
ICES103: Thermal Control of Commercial and Exploration Spacecraft
The 52nd International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Calgary, Canada, on 16 July 2023 through 20 July 2023.


Lunar surface exploration, Dust degradation, Thermo-optical properties, Radiator sizing