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Aeolian Removal of Dust Types from Photovoltaic Surfaces on MarsDust elevated in local or global dust storms on the Martian surface could settle on photovoltaic (PV) surfaces and seriously hamper their performance. Using a recently developed technique to apply a uniform dust layer, PV surface materials were subjected to simulated Martian winds in an attempt to determine whether natural Aeolian processes on Mars would sweep off the settled dust. Three different types of dust were used; an optical polishing powder, basaltic "trap rock", and iron (III) oxide crystals. The effects of wind velocity, angle of attack, height above the Martian surface, and surface coating material were investigated. It was found that arrays mounted with an angle of attack approaching 45 degrees 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 this test 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 soil if they are set up less than about a meter from the ground. Particle size effects appear to dominate over surface chemistry in these experiments, but additional tests are required to confirm this. Providing that the surface chemistry of Martian dusts is not drastically different from simulated dust and that gravity differences have only minor effects, the materials used for protective coatings for photovoltaic arrays 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
Conference Paper
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. Cleveland, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
December 11, 2015
Publication Date
November 5, 1990
Subject Category
Lunar And Planetary Science And Exploration
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Space Simulation Conference(Albuquerque, NM)
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.

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