Dusty Spacesuit? NASA is Betting $130K a WSU Team Can Clean That
The concept is such:
Use liquid nitrogen to clean spacesuits of lunar dust.
Whoa, this IS rocket science now, isn't it? Think BIG or go home.
A team of WSU students recently received an approximately $130,000 grant, one of seven awarded nationwide through NASA’s Breakthrough, Innovative and Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge, for a project to effectively use liquid nitrogen to completely wash lunar dust out of spacesuits.
Lunar dust is an extremely abrasive material that can critically damage and compromise electronics, clothing, and life support systems. In addition, some astronauts have experienced an ailment they described as “lunar hay fever” from inhalation of lunar dust.
Previous removal techniques using brushes, vacuums, and other fluid washes proved ineffective. These methods not only provided insufficient dust removal, but also could often damage systems. However, using the dusting effect of cryogenic liquids, a solution may have been found. The process is explained below:
And why not use some of that 40 year old Mt. St. Helens ash? That should do the trick. Use that to see if it works. Properly preserved Mt. St. Helens ash is very similar to lunar dust, so it makes sense to conduct experiments using some of the material uncorked from the mountain that fateful May day in 1980.
Basically, small droplets of liquid nitrogen are agitated and brought to a temperature way above its boiling point to attain what's known as the Leidenfrost Effect.
Droplets actually become insulated as they heat and turn to gas and then spin and move to clean. The project's aim is to harness this effect in a spray form of hundreds of thousands of droplets. The team is in the process of building small models to test and to determine how much liquid to use and at what pressure.
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