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Structures and Materials Division Research and Technology Directorate NASA Glenn Research Center

Tribology and mechanical Components Branch
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Tribology and Space Mechanisms - Cold Mechanisms
Research Objectives
  • Develop low-temperature mechanisms to allow operation in temperatures below -200° C and possibly to -230° C
  • Allow sustainable operation from -230° C to +120° C for lunar exploration
  • Improve mechanism performance for harsh lunar environment
Technical Challenges
  • Extreme temperature range
  • Hard vacuum
  • Abrasive dust with static electric attraction
  • Long-lived, reliable, maintenance-free operation required
  • Must be light weight
Current Research
  • A traction (friction) drive featuring metal rollers with thin ceramic coatings is being developed. This promises to allow operation over a very wide temperature range.
  • New concepts in both solid and liquid lubrication are being investigated.
Artist concept of lunar base
Above: Artist concept of lunar base

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Last Updated: April 21, 2009