Magnetic Mars Dust Removal Technology

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F. J. Arias (2018), JBIS, 71, pp.36-39

Refcode: 2018.71.36
Keywords: Mars dust removal techniques, Mars dust detection, Sample Fetching Rover (MSR), Solar array

It is known that the Martian atmosphere contains a large amount of suspended dust. The saltation process, or gravitational settlement of atmospheric dust, onto the surface of solar arrays can affect the utility of solar power on any Mars mission, especially for long term operations. This can be a special issue for the case of a future Sample Fetching Rover (SFR) mission where the current baseline architecture uses a solar array and where dust storms can jeopardize the entire mission, not only affecting the supply of energy for locomotion but for the communication with the Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV). Dust-removal techniques have been classified into four categories: natural, mechanical, electromechanical, and electrostatic. Here; a novel approach is explored, based on the magnetic properties of the martian dust which according to the data from the NASA ?s Mars Exploration Rover Spirit, contains mostly the strong magnetic mineral magnetite (Fe3O4). If so, the magnetic dipoles (dust grains) may be accelerated by the gradient of a magnetic field and then forcibly propelled as a stream of energetic dust against the surface of the solar array to remove the dust settled there, i.e., a dust cleaning dust concept, which could be called dustblasting, and has the advantage that it does not require any mechanical parts, and the magnetic field can be generated with a discrete input of electricity which can be obtained from the solar array itself.

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