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- Research was conducted to develop an electrostatic power generator for future lunar missions that facilitate the utilization of lunar resources. The lunar surface is known to be negatively charged from the constant bombardment of electrons and protons from the solar wind. The resulting negative electrostatic charge on the dust particles, in the lunar vacuum, causes them to repel each other minimizing the potential. The result is a layer of suspended dust about one meter above the lunar surface. This phenomenon was observed by both Clementine and Surveyor spacecrafts. During the Apollo 17 lunar landing, the charged dust was a major hindrance, as it was attracted to the astronauts' spacesuits, equipment, and the lunar buggies. The dust accumulated on the spacesuits caused reduced visibility for the astronauts, and was unavoidably transported inside the spacecraft where it caused breathing irritation . In the lunar vacuum, the maximum charge on the particles can be extremely high. An article in the journal "Nature", titled "Moon too static for astronauts?" (Feb 2, 2007) estimates that the lunar surface is charged with up to several thousand volts . The electrostatic power generator was devised to alleviate the hazardous effects of negatively charged lunar soil by neutralizing the charged particles through capacitive coupling and thereby simultaneously harnessing power through electric charging . The amount of power generated or collected is dependent on the areal coverage of the device and hovering speed over the lunar soil surface. A thin-film array of capacitors can be continuously charged and sequentially discharged using a time-differentiated trigger discharge process to produce a pulse train of discharge for DC mode output. By controlling the pulse interval, the DC mode power can be modulated for powering devices and equipment. In conjunction with a power storage system, the electrostatic power generator can be a power source for a lunar rover or other systems. The negatively charged lunar soil would also be neutralized mitigating some of the adverse effects resulting from lunar dust.
- Other Subject(s):
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 20100032922.
AIAA SPACE 2010 Conference and Exposition; 31 Aug. - 2 Sep. 2010; Anaheim, CA; United States.
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