ACTIVITY – NASA- BIG IDEA – LUNAR DUST DESIGN CHALLENGE
Figure 1- http://bigidea.nianet.org/2021-challenge/ check out the actual NASA version of this activity.
NASA is committed to landing American astronauts, including the first woman and the next
man, on the Moon by 2024. Through the agency’s Artemis lunar exploration program, we will
use more innovative and cost-effective new technologies and systems to explore more of the
Moon than ever before. We will collaborate with our commercial and international partners to
establish sustainable missions by 2028.
The Moon’s environment presents unique challenges, and lunar dust is one of the principal limiting
factors in returning to the lunar surface for missions of any extended duration. Lunar dust is
difficult to shield against and remove as it is extremely abrasive, highly cohesive, small in size,
and may be electrostatically charged. In addition to threatening astronaut health, lunar dust issues
have also resulted in incorrect instrument readings, vision and optical system obscuration,
performance reduction, altered thermal properties, and equipment failure. High-velocity dust
ejected by descent engine exhaust can cause damage to the lander, as well as nearby surface assets,
which will have negative consequences as NASA strives for sustainable lunar exploration. Many
terrestrial industries such as mining, food, and cosmetics, have created unique dust mitigation
technologies. NASA would like to explore these innovations as potential solutions to lunar dust
For future lunar exploration missions, dust will also inevitably be introduced into habitable spaces,
where, under lunar gravity, certain particle sizes can be a health hazard to humans. No single
technology completely solves the challenges of dust, but rather a suite of technologies will be
required to address them. To enable sustainable human operation of the Moon in the coming
decade, NASA is looking for near-term, innovative and viable solutions for dealing with the
Moon’s abrasive dust.
Teams of 1-4 people (an individual is a team of 1 person) will submit a 3,000 characters
(including spaces) document providing a high-level overview of the proposed project and impact
of the related research. Proposals will respond to one of the following categories:
A. Landing Dust Prevention and Mitigation – to preclude or protect from plume/surface
interactions which may result in damaged landers and nearby surface assets.
Written by A. Lee, based on the actual NASA challenge 9/20/20
B. Spacesuit Dust Tolerance and Mitigation – to limit dust adherence to spacesuits and
other deleterious effects to its subsystems.
C. Exterior Dust Prevention, Tolerance, and Mitigation -to protect lunar surface systems
or preclude dust from entering habitats and landers
D. Cabin Dust Tolerance and Mitigation – to clean habitable volumes and their interior
surfaces, which helps prevent dust from making it back to Gateway and Orion when the
lander returns to lunar orbit from the surface
The proposal must include the following sections:
1. Summary Statement
• An overall summary of the innovation, including a title of the project, and names of all
2. Problem Statement and Background
• Challenge being addressed and overall approach (specifically refer to A, B, C, or D
3. Project Description
• What technology are you going to develop or implement, and why is it important?
Optional BONUS Sections:
o How does your proposed technology fit in NASA’s planned lunar architecture?
(see NASA’s Plan for Sustained Lunar Exploration and Development)?
o Adherence to the Design Constraints and Guidelines
o Verification on Earth
§ Proposers must describe HOW their technology could be demonstrated on Earth to
provide confidence it can work in a lunar environment. If selected, teams will need to
demonstrate a working technology. It is up to each team to determine the best way to
accomplish this, and provide details on how verification testing will be conducted.
Physics-based modeling may support verification but is not a sufficient replacement
for hardware testing.
• For the testing, will you accomplish a realistic simulated environment? If so, how?
What have you considered from the DSNE?
§ A brief discussion on the concept’s anticipated path-to-flight for a mission to the
Moon by 2026. Based on significant differences between on- and off-Earth
operations, the path-to-flight description must address the critical modifications that
would be made to the design for use on the Moon.
• Detailed budget
o Budget should include all relevant costs, not to exceed $180,000.