University students from across the United States will present innovative concepts that could be used to help NASA mitigate lunar dust challenges Lunar dust is mostly made of small particles that stick to just about everything. It’s abrasive and can damage things, including spacesuits, equipment, spacecraft, and habitats. The Breakthrough, Innovative and Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge virtual forum will be livestreamed Nov. 17 at 10:00 a.m. EST and available to view after the event. NASA will announce the team awards Nov. 19. NASA selected the finalist teams and awarded almost $1 million to develop the concepts and technologies, including methods and technologies for both active dust mitigation capabilities, like air filtration systems, and passive concepts, like dust-free landing pads and workspaces.

The finalist teams presenting at the forum and their technology concepts are:

  • Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, with Rhode Island School of Design in Providence
    Layers of protection at a spacesuit’s most vulnerable points using tufted electrostatically charged repulsion fibers and regolith catching fibers. 
  • California Institute of Technology in Pasadena 
    A dust shielding system using electromagnetic panels to mitigate lunar dust intruding in habitable spaces. 
  • Colorado School of Mines in Golden 
    A launch and landing pad with a reinforced surface, and a carbon fiber fabric barrier. 
  • Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta
    A hybrid brush which uses electromagnetic and ultraviolet technologies to remove lunar regolith from spacesuits and other surfaces. 
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla
    A lunar dust removal system that removes dust from solar cells using ultrasonic vibration. 
  • University of Central Florida in Orlando
    A hair-like surface microstructure that decreases the strong interaction between the dust and the exterior of the spacesuit. 
  • Washington State University in Pullman 
    A spray bar that uses cryogenic liquid droplets to lift and transport lunar dust from spacesuit materials. 

Such systems could benefit NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration program by removing lunar dust from where it’s not supposed to be – or stopping it from getting there in the first place, helping protect astronauts and equipment and allowing long-term study of the Moon.

The 2021 BIG Idea Challenge is sponsored by NASA through a collaboration between the Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Game Changing Development program and the Office of STEM Engagement’s Space Grant and Fellowship project. The challenge is managed by the National Institute of Aerospace.

For the forum agenda, visit:

To view the team’s digital posters, visit: