Embry-Riddle to Demonstrate Dust Shield on Lunar Surface

As part of the EagleCam project, Embry-Riddle has teamed with the NASA Kennedy Space Center to demonstrate an electrodynamic dust shield (EDS). Dr. Troy Henderson, Associate Professor of Aerospace Engineering, is leading the funded research. 

Since the Apollo missions, the fine lunar regolith has demonstrated an ability to electrostatically stick to space suits, camera lenses, and other hardware. The NASA-developed EDS system will be integrated into two of the camera lenses of EagleCam by Embry-Riddle faculty and students. Upon landing on the surface, lunar regolith will degrade the image from the camera by coating the lens. 

The EDS uses an electric field to remove the dust. The experiment, which will be the first ever demonstration of the EDS technology on the lunar surface, will include images from before and after the EDS operation to determine the efficiency of dust removal. 

Embry-Riddle is partnering Intuitive Machines to send the EagleCam CubeSat camera system to space. EagleCam will capture the first-ever selfie of a spacecraft touching down on the moon. Learn more at db.erau.edu/eaglecam

“It’s exciting to be working with Embry-Riddle students to demonstrate the EDS on the lunar surface. The data from a successful test could impact future space missions, including the return of humans to the Moon,” said alumnus Dr. Charles Buhler (’95), Senior Research Scientist at NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Electrostatics and Surface Physics Laboratory. 

Buhler and a team of NASA engineers delivered a laboratory unit to a group of excited students and faculty in the Embry-Riddle Space Technologies Laboratory on Jan. 29. During his visit, Buhler trained the EagleCam team on how to use the lab unit to test dust removal in air, and under vacuum, and discussed the unit’s ability to remove dust on images. Continued experiments will help finalize the EDS that will operate as part of EagleCam. 

Doctoral student Christopher Hays (’19) was among the EagleCam team members taking receipt of the EDS. Hays, a lead engineer, is researching image processing methods for space systems to address lens degradation due to dust or radiation effects.

“This is a great experience for ERAU students to interact with NASA engineers who are experts in dust mitigation,” he said.

Dr. Troy Henderson
Associate Professor of Aerospace Engineering