NASA funds UVM Mars research
Release Date: 10-01-2008
UVM's College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (CEMS) has received a grant for $750,000 from NASA to develop active-surface methods for mitigation of dust adhesion on surfaces, such as space suits, solar panels, and rover wheel hubs, which is a vital component for future human habitation of Mars or the moon.
Fine dust particulates become charged in these environments by both solar wind and frictional effects, leading to rapid adhesion of dust to exposed surfaces. This dust could interfere with instruments and solar panels, penetrate spacesuits and hatches, and possibly affect human health. The research will focus on creating a "smart surface" able to clean itself of dust particles using a combination of vibration, acoustic radiation, and a sweeping electromagnetic field. A July 2008 article published in Mass High Tech, "Mars plane, anti-dust tech follow NASA grants," details how this cutting-edge research could enable human life on Mars.
The UVM team is led by Jeff Marshall, professor in the School of Engineering, together with Darren Hitt and Jeff Frolik, professors in the School of Engineering, and Junru Wu, professor from the UVM Physics Department. Supporting UVM on the project are Vermont companies Microstrain Corporation and Seldon Laboratory, as well as Vermont Technical College and Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. The project will support several graduate students, as well as senior design groups at both UVM and Vermont Technical College.