On the way to the Moon with #MoonRIDERS

MoonRiders Moon RIDERS: Research Investigating Dust Expulsion Removal Systems is a unique collaboration that involves NASA, PISCES, Google Lunar XPrize, Dept of Education, Iolani High School and Kealakehe High School. It's rare to have such a diverse public private partnership involving a public and private school, and MoonRIDERS is being touted as a first for Hawaii. Both schools have an opportunity to build and operate an experiment on the surface of the moon. Interestingly, a major problem with extraterrestrial landings is dust. Eons of dust, layer upon layer of this fine as flour, rough as sandpaper particles, get kicked up during a landing and can cause havoc with equipment and flight suits. This became evident to NASA since our first lunar landings.
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Electrodynamic Dust Shield
NASA researchers like Carlos Calle worked to refine a method to remove surface dust called Electrodynamic Dust Shield (EDS). Using a phase shifted alternating current the EDS moved the dust particles off the surface of glass. This dust shield is just one aspect of the mission student teams from Iolani and Kealakehe will test. The EDS unit needs to be mounted to the base of a lunar lander but in order to get an assessment of it's relative position an entire mockup of the lander needs to be fabricated. The Iolani team using their maker facility at Sullivan Center fabricated a quarter size mockup of the Astrobotic Lunar Rover called the Griffin. The Kealakehe team is working on an alternative rover designed by EarthRise Space Foundation. Both teams started at the beginning of this academic year (Sept 2014) and are now at the stage of an engineering field test in March 2015 on Mauna Kea at a PISCES test site. During the March field test the mockups will go through a series of tests to simulate a lunar landing. They teams will also have a chance to test the EDS and make recommendations on how to measure its performance. In addition to fabrication and testing the teams also engage in outreach as STEM ambassadors. Both the Iolani and Kealakehe teams have MoonRIDERS websites and social media sites including Twitter and Instagram. The Iolani team consist primarily of junior and senior level students but part of their mission is to introduce the project to lower school 3rd graders at Iolani and eventual take the show on the road to other schools. This outreach effort is important since MoonRIDERS will outlast some of the students currently involved as they graduate from school. The timeline for the launch date is late 2016. But even after the launch, the hope is there will be future payload projects that will involve Hawaii high school teams, a critical role for PISCES and NASA as the enabler. Rob Kelso, Executive Director of PISCES said, "For students to go into an interview for college or job and be able to say they were part of a flight experiment that today is sitting on the surface of the Moon. What a testimony to their hard work!" Now the goal is to get more Hawaii students into this STEM pipeline, to share in this game changing experience and to create high value 21st century skills. Additional Links: