Dust mitigation is a critical issue in space missions, especially lunar exploration missions. UV light present on the bright side of the moon causes the dust particles to have a net positive charge, increasing their likelihood of adhering to surfaces. To make the matters worse, moon dust particles are irregularly shaped with sharp edges due to its formation over millions of years of meteorite impacts that melted silicates, creating shards of glass and fragmented minerals. This aspect of lunar dust makes many terrestrial anti-dust and self-cleaning coatings unacceptable for space applications because soft materials are easily damaged.
The proposed Novel Durable Silica-based Transparent (NoDuST) coating minimizes (potentially eliminates) lunar dust adherence to hatches and covers used for protection of delicate components from harmful effects of lunar dust. NoDuST is a silica-titania based coating that can be used to prevent regolith from adhering to these as well as other mechanical components such as actuators, wheels, hinges that need to operate in dusty lunar conditions. The NoDuST coating passively minimizes dust adhesion based on reducing adhesion forces between the coating and lunar regolith particles. This coating has increased hardness to be able to withstand operation in lunar conditions with sharp particles constituting lunar regolith, it is clear to visible light and suitable for applications requiring visibility of the surface under the coating (camera lenses and filters, visors, etc.), absorbs UV and will protect surfaces covered with these from fading and degradation, can potentially have increased resistance to space radiation and will not degrade due to space radiation. For NoDuST coatings, Pioneer Astronautics proposes to combine silica and titania nanoparticles with a wide particle size distribution to minimize dust adhesion while maintaining a high film hardness to withstand abrasion in harsh lunar conditions.
Dust is the biggest challenge for human operation on the lunar surface, NoDuST coating has direct application for NASA Artemis program: this coating will minimize lunar dust adherence to mechanisms and moving parts (actuators, pistons, wheels, hinges etc.) as well as to enclosures and hatches protecting delicate components from harmful effects of lunar dust.
This technology will also be useful for future space exploration and other dusty planetary destinations.
Commercial space exploration is quickly developing and this technology will be useful for all commercial lunar investigation efforts.
This technology has terrestrial applications and can be beneficial for all industries where mineral dust is common: construction business, mining and even agriculture.