None of the Apollo astronauts suffered any long-term ill effects from dust exposure, only acute respiratory problems—which suggests the lunar schmutz might not be too nasty. Before the first soft landing on the moon by Surveyor 1 in 1966, scientists were quite worried about lunar dust being too deep to land on. Cain observed that lunar regolith contains several types of reactive dust, including silicon dioxide (50%), iron oxide and calcium oxide (45%), and other oxides (5%). Get breaking space news and the latest updates on rocket launches, skywatching events and more! https://www.space.com/moon-dust-problem-lunar-exploration.html Join us at patreon.com/universetoday. Related: Apollo 11 at 50: A Complete Guide to the Historic Moon Landing. This dark dust absorbed sunlight, causing thermal problems for radiators and spacesuits. "Human exploration is dependent on being able to traverse foreign environments, but the number of cycles that built-to-last equipment must endure will determine how far our moon booties will take us," Kobrick concluded. Visit our corporate site. in A Collection of Technical Papers - 1st Space Ecploration Conference: Continuing the Voyage of Discovery. “One of the key findings from Apollo was that the abrasion effects of the lunar regolith would be the major limiting factor in returning to the Moon. NY 10036. Moon dust is constantly bathed in radiation from the sun, a bombardment that gives the material an electric charge. Within a few days of exposure to it, their spacesuits suffered from obscured visors, clogged mechanisms, and erosion in the layers of their suits. regolith), a fine powder that sticks to everything. Such research, together with other studies of dust exposure, will be invaluable for investigating health effects and for developing the measures to control exposure to dust on the moon, he added. As a result, billions of years of bombardment from micrometeorites have pulverized much of the surface into fine particles with razor-sharp edges. Think of it as a flashback message from the Apollo moonwalkers: The moon is a Disneyland of dust. To address this particular problem, a team of ESA-led researchers is developing materials that will provide better protection for lunar explorers. Those of us who were around during the early Apollo days know well about the "Gold Dust Theory," that cost NASA beaucoup dollars. “Lunar lander engine exhaust blows dust, soil, gravel, and rocks at high velocity and will damage surrounding hardware such as lunar outposts, mining operations, or … Schmitt had what some tag as history's first recorded case of extraterrestrial hay fever. Spent gunpowder smell probably was much more implanted in our memories than other comparable smells." The problem is that the moon's native dust particles stick to almost any kind of surface. The trouble with moon dust stems from the strange properties of lunar soil. And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com. Ryan Kobrick is an assistant professor of spaceflight operations at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. Earth's moon is the  "go-to" place for human spaceflight over the next decade. Next, there are the customary permeability tests, where high-pressure fluid is applied to samples of material to see if it penetrates the fibers. "Safety maintenance and recertification will be critical operations, given the dust hazards. During the first lunar missions, NASA discovered the dangerous nature of the moon’s dust. Moon dust is a major problem for astronauts, but a simple coating could ward off damage. Though there will be opportunities for those willing to make use of those resources, whether as nations, as individuals, as private companies or as a combination of these, there will also be dangers to address. "There will be a need to develop training, education and research establishments and the development of vaccines to combat the potential for the emergence of pathogenic microbes within the settlements due to mutation," he said. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. Depending on where the dust comes from on the Moon, it can have very different chemical and abrasive characteristics. Apollo 17 commander Gene Cernan expressed similar thoughts in a technical debrief following his mission, which was the last human sojourn to the moon. How deep should lunar dust get over billions of years? This presents a number of challenges. In a 2005 NASA study, reports from the six Apollo missions were studied to assess the overall effects of lunar dust on EVA systems. 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