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H. A. Perko (Colorado State Univ.), J. R. Green (JPL), J. D. Nelson (Colorado State Univ.)
Dust adhesion is a major factor affecting the design and performance of spacecraft for planetary surface and comet exploration. Dust adhesion is caused by a combination of electrostatic and van der Waals forces. A theoretical model has been constructed that indicates the magnitude of these forces is a function of pressure, temperature, and ambient gas composition1. A laboratory investigation is in progress to verify the theoretical model over a broad range of planetary environments from Earth-like to comet-like conditions.
The experiments being conducted consist of depositing dust onto various spacecraft materials under different environmental conditions and attempting to mechanically shake the dust off to obtain a measure of adhesion. More specifically, the materials being used include pairs of aluminum, glass, stainless steel, and black painted specimens. One of the specimens from each pair is mounted to an electrometer and is used to witness accumulated dust mass and charge. The other specimen from each pair is affixed to a vibrating cantilever beam used to induce dust separation. Dust is sifted onto the specimens in the vacuum and cryogenic chamber. Dust adhesion force is determined from the amplitude and frequency of beam vibrations and the mass and size of dust particles.
In order to enable comparison with the theoretical model, which assumes ideal spheres resting on a surface, the predominant dust material being used consists of 50 to 70 \mum glass spheres. This size glass sphere exerts an adhesive force that is capable of being measured by the experimental apparatus. The intent of this research is to increase our fundamental understanding of the effects of environmental conditions on dust adhesion and improve our ability to develop suitable dust mitigation techniques for the exploration of comet, asteroid and planetary surfaces.
1 Perko, H.A. (1998) ``Surface Cleanliness Based Dust Adhesion Model" Proceedings of the International Conference on Construction, Operations and Sciences in Space, American Society of Civil Engineers, Albuquerque, NM.
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