Dust Contamination and Potential Mitigation Strategies

Dust contamination poses a threat to future crews, systems, and tools. Developing means and systems to mitigate habitat contamination is an important factor in ensuring safe planetary exploration. The Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) provides a beneficial platform to research various dust mitigation techniques. This is a simple analysis that can be added on to all EVAs. This is mainly a method and technology study to attempt additional data collection on contamination risks of an airlock system with no suit-port connection. Crew members have prior experience running similar tests with the University of North Dakota’s Human Spaceflight Laboratory’s Lunar/Martian Analog Habitat. Testing is fairly simple and can be done with little equipment or time requirements. Crew members on EVA would need to ensure the airlock and reentry point is clear of most dust and contamination prior to EVA. Upon return the crew will perform one of three different passive (non-mechanized) dust mitigation techniques, use of a cloth to dislodge dust from the suit, use of a brush to dislodge loose dust, and use of compressed air. The crew will then reenter the habitat, doff the suits and collect all dust tracked into the airlock region of the habitat to be weighed and compared with a baseline collected during the initial EVAs. This research will help with future planetary exploration providing insight for habitat design requirements, dust mitigation methods, and understanding potential contamination dynamics.

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