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Aeolian removal of dust from photovoltaic surfaces on MarsIt is well documented that Mars is totally engulfed in huge dust storms nearly each Martian year. Dust elevated in these global dust storms, or in any of the numerous local dust storms could settle on photovoltaic surfaces and seriously hamper photovoltaic power system performance. Using a recently developed technique to uniformly dust simulated photovoltaic surfaces, samples were subjected to Martian-like winds in an attempt to determine whether natural aeolian processes on Mars would sweep off the settled dust. The effects of wind velocity, angle of attack, height off the Martian surface, and surface coating material were investigated. Principles which can help to guide the design of photovoltaic arrays bound for the Martian surface were uncovered. Most importantly, arrays mounted with an angle of attack approaching 45 deg show the most efficient clearing. Although the angular dependence is not sharp, horizontally mounted arrays required significantly higher wind velocities to clear off the dust. From the perspective of dust-clearing it appears that the arrays may be erected quite near the ground, but previous studies have suggested that saltation effects can be expected to cause such arrays to be covered by sand if they are set up less than about a meter from the ground. Providing that the surface chemistry of Martian dusts is comparable to our test dust, the materials used for protective coating may be optimized for other considerations such as transparency, and chemical or abrasion resistance. The static threshold velocity is low enough that there are regions on Mars which experience winds strong enough to clear off a photovoltaic array if it is properly oriented. Turbulence fences proved to be an ineffective strategy to keep dust cleared from the photovoltaic surfaces.
Document ID
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
Gaier, James R.
(NASA Lewis Research Center Cleveland, OH., United States)
Perez-Davis, Marla E.
(NASA Lewis Research Center Cleveland, OH., United States)
Marabito, Mark
(Cleveland State Univ. OH., United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
February 1, 1990
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion And Power
Report/Patent Number
NAS 1.15:102507
Accession Number
Funding Number(s)
PROJECT: RTOP 591-14-41
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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