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NASA models moon dust with EDEM software

6 May 2008



Modelling software company DEM Solutions has signed a contract to support NASA’s exploration technology programmes.

DEM Solutions will collaborate with scientists and engineers at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) to add new modeling capabilities to DEM Solutions’ EDEM software, enabling NASA’s Dust Mitigation and In-Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU) programmes to model the unique physical and electrostatic characteristics of lunar and martian dust and rock (regolith) in the design of new technologies for dust mitigation, and excavation, handling and processing of granular material under low gravity conditions.

EDEM is a DEM (Discrete Element Method) software used for the simulation, analysis, and visualisation of particulate solids handling and processing operations across a broad range of industries. It provides a powerful, but easy-to-use tool for engineers to model the complex behaviour of industrial particulate processes and obtain high-resolution information on bulk particle flow and interactions with equipment and surrounding media. It is used to evaluate and improve particle handling equipment and process design through testing of virtual prototypes so saving time and cost in physical testing and increasing product quality and reliability.

Under a previous contract, DEM Solutions engineers successfully teamed with the Electrostatics and Surface Physics laboratory at the KSC to develop advanced electrostatic models in EDEM for simulation of tribocharging of particles in contact with charged surfaces.

The new contract will continue the enhancement EDEM software to meet NASA’s advanced modelling needs in the area of particle electrostatics and interactions with electric and magnetic fields as well as handling and processing of lunar regolith. DEM Solutions engineers will contribute to the Dust Mitigation programme, which is developing technologies for removal of dust from lunar equipment, such as optical and thermal radiator surfaces, connectors, and seals, and with the ISRU programme, which is developing technologies for processing lunar regolith to generate oxygen and other raw materials necessary for long-term survival on the moon.

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