Navigation Links
Lotus-plant-inspired dust-busting shield to protect space gear
Date:9/23/2009

GREENBELT, Md. -- A NASA team is developing a transparent coating that mimics the self-cleaning properties of the lotus plant to prevent dirt from sticking to the surfaces of spaceflight gear and bacteria from growing inside astronaut living quarters.

Materials engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., are working to develop a "lotus" coating that can survive the harsh space environment and minimize contaminants from adhering to the surfaces of radiators, spacesuits, scientific instruments, robotic rovers, solar array panels, windows and other hardware used to gather scientific data or carry out exploratory activities during missions.

The technology, which was inspired by the lotus plant that lives along muddy waterways in Asia, was commercially developed as a coating for windows to reduce the need for cleaning. Although a lotus leaf appears smooth, under a microscope, its surface actually contains innumerable tiny spikes. These spikes greatly reduce the area on which water and dirt can attach, preventing them from adhering strongly to the leaf. Water droplets literally roll off, taking mud, tiny insects, and contaminants with them.

The coating, made primarily from silica, zinc oxide, and other oxides, offers countless commercial applications on Earth. It also offers great potential for use in space, particularly on landed missions to Mars or the moon where dust can accumulate on rovers and prevent them from carrying out their missions. Understanding the potential, Northrop Grumman Electronics Systems, Linthicum, Md., teamed with nGimat Corporation, based in Atlanta, Ga., to find more applications for the coating technology, ultimately turning to Goddard for its expertise in making equipment ready to endure the harsh space environment.

"Indeed, the ability to replicate these properties could prove invaluable to NASA," said Wanda Peters, Principal Investigator for NASA's lotus coating research.

During the Apollo moonwalks, for example, such a technology could have prevented the highly abrasive lunar dust from adhering to astronauts' spacesuits. "However, the coating as it was originally formulated will not be able to withstand the harsh environmental conditions found in space," Peters said.

The Goddard team has experimented with and tested different formulas to determine their suitability for spaceflight. "No one formula will meet all our needs," added Peters. "For example, the coating that's applied to spacesuits needs to stick to a flexible surface, while a coating developed to protect moving parts needs to be exceptionally durable to resist wear and tear."

The Goddard team has met with exploration systems engineers at NASA's Johnson Spaceflight Center, Houston, Texas, to demonstrate the modified coatings and get mission requirements.

The team also is trying to partner with Northrop Grumman to add biocide capabilities that would kill bacteria, which thrive and produce foul odors wherever people are confined to a small space for long periods, like the space station. NASA could apply the same biocide-infused coating on a planetary lander to prevent Earth-borne bacteria from adhering and potentially contaminating the surface of an extraterrestrial object. The team believes this version of the coating may have commercial interest to hospitals as well.

"We are modifying and testing the formula to ensure it can withstand all the challenges our hardware will encounter extreme temperatures, ultraviolet radiation, solar wind, and electrostatic charging. Outgassing of the coating also must be addressed for use inside astronauts' habitation areas," Peters added. "We also are making sure it remains durable and cleanable in the space environment."

"We have a great team," said Peters. "Goddard is the only NASA center researching this type of coating, and we believe continued research will deliver great benefits to NASA's exploration missions and will produce many positive applications outside NASA."


'/>"/>

Contact: Bill Steigerwald
William.a.steigerwald@nasa.gov
301-286-5017
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Evolution coup: Study reveals how plants protect their genes
2. Mayo Clinic researchers find that protein believed to protect against cancer has a Mr. Hyde side
3. Protecting cells from their neighbors
4. Structure of protective protein in the eye lens revealed
5. University of Minnesota research leads to new technology to protect human health
6. Invisibility cloak could protect against earthquakes
7. A heart healthy diet and ongoing, moderate physical activity may protect against cognitive decline
8. New tracking approach will help protect polar bears
9. Protecting the food crops of the future
10. Afghanistan releases its first-ever list of protected species
11. Uniloc Unveils Industry-First Authentication Technology for Comprehensive Protection of Critical Infrastructure
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Lotus-plant-inspired dust-busting shield to protect space gear
(Date:5/20/2016)... , May 20, 2016  VoiceIt is ... partnership with VoicePass. By working together, ... experience.  Because VoiceIt and VoicePass take slightly different ... engines increases both security and usability. ... excitement about this new partnership. "This ...
(Date:5/12/2016)... 2016 WearablesResearch.com , a brand of ... results from the Q1 wave of its quarterly wearables ... consumers, receptivity to a program where they would receive ... insurance company. "We were surprised to see ... Michael LaColla , CEO of Troubadour Research, "primarily because ...
(Date:5/3/2016)...  Neurotechnology, a provider of high-precision biometric identification ... Identification System (ABIS) , a complete system for ... can process multiple complex biometric transactions with high ... face or iris biometrics. It leverages the core ... MegaMatcher Accelerator , which have been used in ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016  Blueprint Bio, a company ... to the medical community, has closed its Series A ... Nunez . "We have received a commitment ... capital we need to meet our current goals," stated ... us the runway to complete validation on the current ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Francisco, CA (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 ... ... (EDC) software, is exhibiting at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and will showcase its ... Annual conference. ClinCapture will also be presenting a scientific poster on Disrupting Clinical ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 22, 2016  Amgen (NASDAQ: ... of the QB3@953 life sciences incubator to ... health. The shared laboratory space at QB3@953 was created ... a key obstacle for many early stage organizations - ... of the sponsorship, Amgen launched two "Amgen Golden Ticket" ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... 22, 2016 Research and Markets has announced ... report to their offering. ... from $29.3 billion in 2013. The market is expected to grow ... 2015 to 2020, increasing from $50.6 billion in 2015 to $96.6 ... during the forecast period (2015 to 2020) are discussed. As well, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: