This European Space Agency project aims to investigate removing dust from solar panels and radiators in Space. We are prime contractors for this project working with the Open University Milton Keynes (texting and facilities), Fluid Gravity Engineering (Simulation & CFD) and Bristol Robotics Laboratory.
There is a stormy season every martian year meaning dust – much finer than found on Earth, is spread and covers the solar panels on landers and rovers. This causes the power output of solar panels to decrease and rover operation to be limited. We were approached to design and develop a robotic arm that will manoeuvre and blow CO2 to remove the dust from solar panel surfaces.
We needed to investigate a range of different concepts for creating, storing and efficiently using the gas to remove the dust. The project developed models of how the CO2 would behave in the martian environment and from there generated fluid dynamic models. The models and subsequent hardware that were created are now being validated in a relevant environment in AArhus Denmark – the video shows the Gas Control System being validated at Magna Parva.
The end goal is that Scientific missions on Mars will last longer due to there being a solution to removing dust from the solar panel and the power output from solar panels will increase and operations won’t be limited.