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Concept rendering of space suit overalls for EVA regolith mitigation

Overalls for Lunar Regolith Mitigation

Lunar regolith is the product of billions of years of the crust’s weathering: subjection to meteoroid and micrometeoroid impacts, Galactic Background Radiation (GBR), solar wind implantation, and Solar Proton Events (SPEs). Pulverized and churned, regolith has obviously and importantly not been subject to erosion by fluids; the resulting particles are highly irregular, sharp-edged and abrasive, with significant distribution in the ultrafine regime (<0.1 µm). This is epidemiologically significant: ultrafine particles are associated with meaningful health dangers, notably cardiovascular and respiratory risks. Ultrafine particles may also penetrate deep into lung tissue, readily carrying pollutants to these sites.

No human lunar surface mission has yet had a total duration of surface EVAs of over 23 hours, yet all Apollo EVAs resulted in significant lunar module cabin regolith contamination. Future crewed lunar missions such as those envisioned for ESA’s Moon Village will entail longer missions with significantly longer total EVA time. Mitigating regolith contamination of habitable areas—including rovers and vehicles as well as habitats—will be crucial to sustainable, long-duration crewed lunar surface missions.

Our proposal is a novel approach intended to significantly mitigate regolith risks to crew health while creating a colorful identity for astronauts. We envision a thin, lightweight, single-use, two-piece overall worn over a conventional space suit while conducting EVAs on the lunar surface. These Kevlar fabric overalls serve two important functions: they keep regolith dust away from the pressure suit, while providing bold visual identification of each astronaut.

The overalls are intended to be donned just before exiting a habitat or vehicle, with the top overlapping the elastic waist of the trousers and secured with a series of Velcro fasteners. At the end of the EVA, just before entering the airlock from a presumed elevated “front porch”, the overalls are removed and turned inside out (like removing a jumper) and binned, preventing habitat contamination by regolith.

The uniform logo “trousers” (with integral boot covers) are mated to an individualized “top” carrying the graphics of the wearing astronaut’s member state. Each astronaut is thus both instantly visually identifiable as member of a cohort and individually (a potential safety feature). The overalls are loose fitting enough to not inhibit pressure suit functions, and can be removed in an emergency. Spent overalls may be centrifuged in a low pressure atmosphere (regolith is especially adhesive in a vacuum) and the material recovered and recycled.

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