Lunar explorations have identified significant lunar dust-related problems that will challenge future mission success. Mechanical systems will be exposed to harsh regolith dust that comprises particles ranging in size from tens of nanometers to microns, and they need to operate on the dusty surface of the moon for months to years with little to no maintenance. NASA seeks technologies in rotary, linear and static joints that will protect from or tolerate dust intrusion. For this Phase I project, Triton will leverage our extensive experience in developing innovative bearings solutions for contaminant-rich environments to design and fabricate dust tolerant joints. We will perform environmental ultra-fine dust tests on the prototypes and evaluate their ability to mitigate and tolerate dust. A report detailing the design concepts and test results, along with recommendations on methods to optimize their performance will be delivered. In Phase II, Triton will optimize joint designs to mitigate dust, fabricate and test the prototypes under simulated operational conditions. Phase II deliverables will include a functional prototype, test results, as well as technology maturation and transition plan for application to mission-worthy systems.
This proposed program will deliver dust tolerant joints that will protect from or tolerate dust intrusion. The novel technology will enable mechanical systems to operate on the dusty surface of the moon for months to years, thus extending their lifetime and enabling the success of future lunar explorations. The dust tolerant joints can be used for Life Support Systems, Advanced Extra Vehicular Activity Systems, Space Suit Assembly, Robotics and Mobility Systems and In situ Resource Utilization.