Monday, February 9, 2009

Lunar Dust 101

James R. Gaier, Space Environment and Experiments Branch at NASA Glenn has put together an excellent premier on the fundamentals of Lunar Dust.

The Space Studies Board of the National Academies has identified "mitigation" and prior to this "understanding" of the dusty and tenuous lunar exosphere is critical prior to extended human activity on the Moon. Recently, in a preliminary follow-up on NASA's progress on recommendations made in Scientific Context for the Exploration of the Moon (2007), the Board gave NASA's practical efforts its highest grades, among its list of priorities.

An enormous amount of breakthrough research from many studies are expected to emerge from NASA and be published with proceedings from several annual conferences throughout 2009. Gaier's powerful presentation took place at Lunar Dust Filtration and Separations Workshop in Cleveland, Ohio last November.

"Largely due to rock and soil samples returned during the Apollo program, much has been learned about the composition and properties of lunar regolith. Although, for the most part, the mineral composition resembles terrestrial minerals, the characteristics of the lunar environment have led to very different weathering processes. These result in substantial differences in the particle shapes, particle size distributions, and surface chemistry. These differences lead to non-intuitive adhesion, abrasion, and possible health properties that will pose challenges to future lunar missions. An overview of lunar dust composition and properties will be given with a particular emphasis on possible health effects."

NASA released the Lunar Dust 101 presentation for download as a pdf HERE.

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