NASA Announces Study To Help Manage Dust Threat To Human Exploration Of Other Planets

·1-min read

NASA has announced a study to help manage a threat to human exploration of other planets: dust.

While dust is a nuisance on Earth, on the Moon it is made of crushed rock and is damaging to everything from lunar landers to spacesuits and human lungs if inhaled.

As NASA readies to return to the Moon with the Artemis program, a team at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland is working to mitigate dust's dangers.

A report on 8 June explained that for NASA to conduct extended human and robotic exploration on the Moon or Mars, the agency needs a better understanding of how to mitigate the omnipresent, complex problem of dust.

Dust mitigation has been an issue for NASA since Apollo. When astronauts were entering and exiting the lunar module, dust got everywhere - it clogged mechanisms, interfered with instruments, caused radiators to overheat and even tore up their spacesuits.

"We learned from Apollo that lunar dust can be less than 20 microns (about 0.00078 inches) in size," said Sharon Miller, the passive dust shedding material program's principal investigator at NASA Glenn. "The dust is very fine, abrasive and sharp, like tiny pieces of glass, making it more of a dangerous threat than just a simple nuisance."

This pictures shows a close-up view of an astronaut's boot print in the lunar soil, photographed with a lunar surface camera during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity (EVA) on the Moon.

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