Commissioning and Testing a New Dusty Thermal Vacuum Chamber with Inclusion of Icy Regolith

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


The Planetary Surface Technology Development Lab (PSTDL) purchased a new testing facility in the form of a dusty thermal vacuum chamber (DTVAC). This facility will be used to test the technology readiness level (TRL) of devices intended for extraplanetary use. Environments such as those found on the Moon and Mars will be simulated in the DTVAC via use of vacuum pumps, thermal shrouds, and simulated regolith. This paper details the commissioning and testing of systems put into place to facilitate TRL testing such as data acquisition systems, test fixtures, and baseline DTVAC performance tests. The PSTDL has purchased two insulated shipping containers that will allow for the creation and reclamation of icy regolith. Icy regolith test beds will be used in the DTVAC to test the TRL of water in situ resource utilization (ISRU) devices.

Publication Title

Earth and Space 2022: Space Exploration, Utilization, Engineering, and Construction in Extreme Environments - Selected Papers from the 18th Biennial International Conference on Engineering, Science, Construction, and Operations in Challenging Environments