This Phase I SBIR will build on MotionPort’s previous simulation successes in the area of solar array deployment, addressing the specific challenge of simulating dust accumulation on solar arrays for long-term energy needs on the surface of Mars. MotionPort will use the Compact Telescoping Surface Array (CTSA) concept, developed by NASA Langley, for the example model. Simulations will be run to demonstrate the capability of simulating dust accumulation on the deployed solar array. Two active dust removal concepts will be simulated: 1) High velocity winds will be applied to determine required wind velocities and orientation to successfully remove dust, and 2) A tilt and shake mechanism will be added to the solar array model to mechanically tilt and add vibration to the structure to ‘shake’ off the dust.
The CTSA will be modeled in the RecurDyn multibody dynamics software, considering the deployed configuration and a sampling of operating configurations. Simulations of dust particles will demonstrate the rate of dust accumulation on the surface of a solar array. An example of this type of simulation is shown in the image. Dust particles were simulated blowing past a rectangular plate with a reduced gravity. Simulations will be used to determine the effect of tilt angle of the solar array on dust abatement.
These simulations will be built upon to demonstrate the ability to simulate removal of dust using a high velocity wind. The results will be compared to available data. Co-simulation with RecurDyn and the Particleworks SPH CFD software will simulate the use of a tilt and shake mechanism to remove dust. Simulations will test the efficiency of dust removal as a function of magnitude and frequency of the shaking mechanism.
A custom application will be developed to automate repetitive steps such as: simplification of the mechanical model, parameter management, and file management. The simulations results, lessons learned, and user information will be documented.
The processes and best practices developed in this project will result in a proven platform simulation methodology that can be expanded to many projects. NASA engineers will be able to plan and conduct simulations of dust deposition and removal for solar array, antennae, and imaging devices. Mission applications include Martian and lunar bases. Tasks to automate tedious steps in the simulation allow NASA and NASA contractor engineers to efficiently apply these methods.
This platform methodology will be commercialized for use by manufacturers and integrators of terrestrial solar arrays. While is it not difficult to test and measure dust accumulation on terrestrial solar arrays, it is difficult to replicate the test conditions precisely such that the effect of making a change to the solar array design on dust accumulation is determined. This activity results in more support for the maintenance and enhancement of dust accumulation/removal simulation capabilities.