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We will develop a self-cleaning dust and regolith tolerant fitting that will enable either gas or fluid transfer on the Moon, Mars, or other worlds. The fitting will not rely on soft seals that will quickly become brittle in space. The fitting design is well suited for use in the ultra-cold permanently shadowed regions of the Moon and will be adaptable for quick operation automatically or by a suited astronaut.
The fitting will achieve reliable, long-term, repeated use in the dusty environments off Earth with negligible loss of product by employing several layers of passive and active dust mitigation including an internal gas-purge system to remove dust from the fitting threads and sealing faces, threads that can function without jamming in the presence of regolith dust, surface geometries that reduce the concentration of electro-static charges, and ultra-smooth surfaces to eliminate locations that dust particles can be trapped. The fitting will be electro-statically grounded to its system.
The fitting will have a dust cover and a gas-operated cleaning cuff for removing dust before the fitting is operated. The gas flow to clean the threads and sealing surfaces can be supplied to the fitting either through the attaching system itself or by a separate gas supply bottle as needed.
In Phase 2 the fitting will be further developed to include electrostatic dissipative (ESD) coatings and a vibrational source, such as a small external ultrasonic transducer or from a clicking feature in the nut similar to a socket wrench, which will produce vibrations while the nut is being turned to help knock loose dust and regolith particles throughout the fitting. An in-line filter will be downstream of the fitting to trap any dust that may make its way past the fitting.
The knowledge gained and many of the innovations in this fitting can be applied to other types of lunar technology, providing multiple returns for the funding.