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Carbon Nano-tube Design Halts Dust Harmful Protective Gear by Deterring Particles

Reporter: Irina Robu, PhD

A self-cleaning spacesuit was developed by engineers using carbon nanotube technology to purge itself from hyper-abrasive space dust. The sharp and sticky particles can cause noteworthy wear and tear on protective gear as well as causing them to overheat.
Kavya Manyapu, a flight crew operations and test engineer for Starliner Spacecraft at Boeing, has now created a way to magnetize flexible carbon nanotube fibers which make the fabric immune to the problematic dust particles. A magnetic field induces a process known as electrophoresis, which carries and moves charged particles away from an area to stop it building up in certain areas.
However, particles on our moon and other planets are sharper and abrasive because of the atmosphere which erodes bulging edges here on Earth. It is also often electrically charged due to the relentless and unfiltered UV rays from space which experts say make the dust particles ‘sticky’. Static electricity aids the dust cling to a spacesuit and then wears out the fabric – often in crevices and folds such as elbows and knees.

Carbon nano-tubes are already in use to stop dust settling on solar panels and other sensors in space but they are brittle and ill-suited for use in clothing. However, scientists have found a way to make technology flexible with the use of small magnetic field created a fabric that can repel the dust.
Boeing engineers created a fully functioning knee joint section to prove their concept was operative. The segment was fully pressurized, as it would be on future lunar and Martian missions. It can even be adapted to improved suit the circumstances and requirements of other planets.

SOURCE

https://nano-magazine.com/news/2019/1/9/self-cleaning-spacesuits-could-help-astronauts-survive-on-mars

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