Paragon proposes an active dust mitigation system for thermal radiators that uses vibrational excitation at targeted modal frequencies to mitigate dust adhesion with the assistance of passive dust mitigation coatings.
NASA is advancing multiple space exploration missions to planetary bodies with the near term goal of returning to the Moon and lunar dust is of particular concern. The lunar surface is, and has been, bombarded with a range of micrometeorites that create a relatively fine dust powder on the surface that is easily agitated, has sharp structural edges, and is charged by photons and solar winds. This combination allows for and even generates fine, charged clouds of dust that coat and obscure structures on the lunar surface. This includes the necessary structures for thermal regulation, thermal radiators.
Thermal radiator systems are commonly cantilevered panel structures designed to extend beyond a main structure to increase the surface area utilized for the absorbance or emittance of thermal radiative energy. Dust buildup on thermal regulators can greatly decrease thermal performance by simultaneously increasing solar absorptivity by darkening the surface and decreasing effective emissivity by adding a low-conduction layer on top of the surface. To help with dust mitigation on structures like thermal radiators, Paragon proposes a Modal Optimized Vibration dust Eliminator (MOVE) as a low cost solution to NASA’s desire for dust mitigation on the lunar surface.
The proposed innovation is a two-part lunar dust mitigation solution which utilizes autonomous, active vibration at modal frequencies coupled with an anti-static coating to minimize the performance reduction caused by lunar dust accumulation on radiative surfaces and panels. The vibration system component is used to loosen and move lunar dust particles off of radiative surfaces to improve thermal radiator performance.
Direct NASA applications of dust mitigation techniques on radiators include human-piloted and autonomous rovers, Lunar decent and ascent vehicles, and surface-installed static equipment. Radiators are highly tailorable for different applications, which yields its use to nearly every application requiring the rejection of heat from electronics or power sources.
The challenges for NASA and commercial missions related to accumulation of dust on radiator surfaces are similar. Accepted and successful applications for NASA missions would be directly transferable to commercial lunar missions. Potentially, there will be more commercial applications due to diversity in mission objective and the nature of market competition.