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

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

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