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The Moon Is Toxic

11 Jul , 2012 by

As our closest neighbor in space, a time-capsule of planetary evolution and the only world outside of Earth that humans have stepped foot on, the Moon is an obvious and ever-present location for future exploration by humans. The research that can be done on the Moon — as well as from it — will be invaluable to science. But the only times humans have visited the Moon were during quick, dusty  jaunts on its surface, lasting only 2-3 days each before departing. Long-term human exposure to the lunar environment has never been studied in depth, and it’s quite possible that — in addition to the many inherent dangers of living and working in space — the Moon itself may be toxic to humans.

An international team of researchers has attempted to quantify the health dangers of the Moon — or at least its dust-filled regolith. In a paper titled “Toxicity of Lunar Dust” (D. Linnarsson et al.) the health hazards of the Moon’s fine, powdery dust — which plagued Apollo astronauts both in and out of their suits — are investigated in detail (or as best as they can be without actually being on the Moon with the ability to collect pristine samples.)

Within their research the team, which included physiologists, pharmacologists, radiologists and toxicologists from 5 countries, investigated some of the following potential health hazards of lunar dust:

Inhalation. By far the most harmful effects of lunar dust would come from inhalation of the particulates. Even though lunar explorers would be wearing protective gear, suit-bound dust can easily make its way back into living and working areas — as Apollo astronauts quickly discovered. Once inside the lungs the super-fine, sharp-edged lunar dust could cause a slew of health issues, affecting the respiratory and cardiovascular system and causing anything from airway inflammation to increased risks of various cancers. Like pollutants encountered on Earth, such as asbestos and volcanic ash, lunar dust particles are small enough to penetrate deep within lung tissues, and may be made even more dangerous by their long-term exposure to proton and UV radiation. In addition, the research suggests a microgravity environment may only serve to ease the transportation of dust particles throughout the lungs.

Skin Damage. Lunar regolith has been found to be very sharp-edged, mainly because it hasn’t undergone the same kind of erosive processes that soil on Earth has. Lunar soil particles are sometimes even coated in a glassy shell, the result of rock vaporization by meteorite impacts. Even the finer particles of dust — which constitute about 20% of returned lunar soil samples — are rather sharp, and as such pose a risk of skin irritation in instances of exposure. Of particular note by the research team is abrasive damage to the outer layer of skin at sites of “anatomical prominence”, i.e., fingers, knuckles, elbows, knees, etc.

“The dust was so abrasive that it actually wore through three layers of Kevlar-like material on Jack [Schmitt’s] boot.”

– Professor Larry Taylor, Director of the Planetary Geosciences Institute, University of Tennessee (2008)

Eye Damage. Needless to say, if particles can pose abrasive damage to human skin, similar danger to the eyes is also a concern. Whether lunar dust makes its way into the eye via airborne movement (again, much more of a concern in microgravity) or through direct contact from fingers or another dust-coated object, the result is the same: danger of abrasion. Having a scratched cornea is no fun, but if you’re busy working on the Moon at the time it could turn into a real emergency.

While the research behind the paper used data about airborne pollutants known to exist on Earth and simulated lunar dust particles, actual lunar dust is harder to test. The samples returned by the Apollo missions have not been kept in a true lunar-like environment — being removed from exposure to radiation and not stored in a vacuum, for instance — and as such may not accurately exhibit the properties of actual dust as it would be encountered on the Moon. The researchers conclude that only studies conducted on-site will fill the gaps in our knowledge of lunar dust toxicity. Still, the research is a step in the right direction as it looks to ensure a safe environment for future explorers on the Moon, our familiar — yet still alien — satellite world.

Read the team’s paper in full here.

“The Apollo astronauts reported undesirable effects affecting the skin, eyes and airways that could be related to exposure to the dust that had adhered to their space suits during their extravehicular activities and was subsequently brought into their spacecraft.”

– Dag Linnarsson, lead author, Toxicity of Lunar Dust

Top image: Apollo 16 astronaut Charlie Duke with a dust-coated LRV. Side image: a dusty Gene Cernan in the LM at the end of an Apollo 17 EVA. (NASA/JSC)

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Gozlemci
Member
July 11, 2012 4:30 AM

“The Moon is Toxic”…”…
may be toxic…”
“Is” or “may be” ?

squidgeny
Member
squidgeny
July 11, 2012 12:28 PM

Gotta agree with the implication here. I know it’s tempting to go for attention-grabbing tabloid-like headlines, but it’s a tad insulting to this site’s audience who are usually intelligent enough to see through it (as evidenced by every single slightly controversial heading being called out in the comments… which is often tedious and predictable, but also necessary feedback in my opinion)

I don’t have an issue with this particular article heading but I’ve noticed a trend.

Jason Major
Guest
July 11, 2012 3:08 PM

Unlike a scientific paper submitted for journal publication, Universe Today IS a blog and as such demands a gripping headline, lest it be passed over by the unwashed (if not the washed) masses. As long as the lead-in paragraph “above the fold” accurately portrays the true nature of the article, IMO, all’s fair in love and blogging. smile

squidgeny
Member
squidgeny
July 11, 2012 3:40 PM

Good point. My comparison with a tabloid is rather unfair then, since they tend to hide the truth in last paragraph!

Jason Major
Guest
July 11, 2012 4:10 PM

If it’s included at all!

ozonator
Guest
ozonator
July 11, 2012 6:18 AM

Astronauts reported the Moon smelled like gunpowder. Long term exposure would be toxic and death would be a race to toxic death or a massive allergic reaction. Naturally, North Carolina and the NRA would pass laws all over the place making the Moon legally non-toxic.

Lorin Ionita
Guest
Lorin Ionita
July 11, 2012 2:10 AM

I wonder. Is Mars the same? Or having an atmosphere you get erosion and it prevents that?

Bariman43
Guest
Bariman43
July 11, 2012 7:10 AM

So it looks like Portal 2 was right, ground up moon rocks are pure poison.

Pema
Member
Pema
July 11, 2012 7:49 AM

So the lesson is to always have a shower before entering the living quarters.

Dampe
Guest
Dampe
July 11, 2012 8:09 AM

Note to self: Always wear a spacesuit when walking on the Lunar surface…

Corrie Engelbrecht
Guest
July 11, 2012 9:10 AM

So to summarize: moon dust is abrasive, so don’t get it in your eyes, rub it on your skin, or inhale it. This is very much NOT a toxic substance, by the facts presented in this article.

Unless you want to tell me that knives are toxic because it can cut your eyes, your skin, and your lungs?

IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE
Member
IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE
July 11, 2012 11:14 AM

There are generally three types of toxic entities; chemical, biological, and physical:

Physical toxicants are substances that, due to their physical nature, interfere with biological processes. Examples include coal dust and asbestos fibers, both of which can ultimately be fatal if inhaled.

Corrie Engelbrecht
Guest
July 11, 2012 11:25 AM

Thanks for the Wikipedia copy-and-paste.

Now: do you actually understand what you’ve pasted there?

Asbestos directly interferes with an organism that inhales it, or absorbes it through its skin. Note that other, long term effects of asbestos exposure, such as cancer, are not relevant. Asbestos directly makes you sick. Therefore it’s harmful via chemical or poisonous means, and is therefore toxic.

Moon dust, at least according to the information provided in this article, does not interfere with the biological processes. Except in the same way that a knife could, because it can cut you, but a knife isn’t toxic, is it?

IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE
Member
IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE
July 11, 2012 11:32 AM

Moon dust, […], does not interfere with the biological processes.

They used to think that about asbestos, too!

squidgeny
Member
squidgeny
July 11, 2012 12:22 PM

“Knife” isn’t a substance. Only substances can have the quality of toxicity.

Corrie Engelbrecht
Guest
July 11, 2012 12:34 PM

Lol. Ok, I’ll have to consider this carefully.

…several hours pass…

Ok. I’ll rephrase my hyperbolic example:
“Unless you want to tell me that water is toxic because it can cut your eyes, your skin, and your lungs when frozen?”

Are you now going to find some other word in the Wikipedia copy-and-paste which you imagine to invalidate my point?

You need to learn that a small thing like “is it a substance or not” is not the germane portion of arguments like this.

squidgeny
Member
squidgeny
July 11, 2012 12:46 PM

Why so rude? First you sarcastically thank IVAN3MAN for quoting wikipedia, and now you’re telling me I “need to learn” something.

I’m not interested in discussing anything with someone who is going to be rudely defensive. You’re going to have to take this semantic debate up with someone else.

Corrie Engelbrecht
Guest
July 11, 2012 12:51 PM

I can easily answer your questions.

Firstly, IVAN only quoted Wikipedia. That’s it. He made no actual comment of his own. Even the part that looks like it’s not quoted is also copied and pasted directly from Wikipedia. It’s therefore a valueless post.

Secondly, you are clearly in need of some attitude adjustment. If you are of the opinion that you can learn nothing, then you are probably a lost cause.

IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE
Member
IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE
July 11, 2012 1:02 PM

Why should I make “an actual comment of [my] own”? Experience from ‘debates’ with AGW deniers, in the Universe Today comments, has taught me that the likes of you are only trolling for a reaction!

Corrie Engelbrecht
Guest
July 11, 2012 1:06 PM

I feel that a response should be more considered, and less “plagiaristic”. You put zero effort into your grand response. Do you expect me to be impressed with that? Not to mention that what you copied and pasted doesn’t even support a position that opposes mine. Why do it at all?

IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE
Member
IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE
July 11, 2012 1:17 PM

Why do it at all?

For the benefit of other readers, dude. You are entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts!

Corrie Engelbrecht
Guest
July 11, 2012 1:20 PM

But what benefit did your post provide, in your opinion?

Let’s see:
1. It was something every single person who cared saw anyway, because they also looked on Wikipedia.
2. Your pasted information supports my factual rendition of what the word toxic means. So you’ve added no value.
3. Whether you agree or disagree is not even clear, since you make no statement at all.

I can provide millions of facts. Facts are unimportant in science, because they have no intrinsic value.

If you tell me that water is wet, then I would have to respond: “So what?”

What value do you think you’re adding?

IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE
Member
IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE
July 11, 2012 1:25 PM

I can provide millions of facts. Facts are unimportant in science, because they have no intrinsic value.

Now you sound like a creationist!

Corrie Engelbrecht
Guest
July 11, 2012 1:38 PM
Facts have no value in science. Only repeatable obvervations have some value. The order of things that science takes note of, are, from lowest to highest: 1. Facts. A dime a dozen, and without intrinsic meaning. 2. Repeatable observations. These are more interesting, because they can be repeated by oneself and by others. 3. Hypothesis. This is a way to explain observations. 4. Models. This is a mathematical way to describe the hypothesis, and provides a basis for a test bed before any physical testing. 5. Experiments. These test predicted observations, and should result in some more repeatable observations. 6. Laws. These are verified summaries provided by the mathematics in the model, and borne out by observed data… Read more »
IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE
Member
IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE
July 11, 2012 2:12 PM

And you know nothing about the definition of fact!

Lee White
Guest
July 11, 2012 2:58 PM

This just in “Moon dust found to be hazardous to friendly conversation”

Corrie Engelbrecht
Guest
July 11, 2012 9:01 PM

It’s like you’re deaf, or something

I agree 100% with your provided reference as to what a FACT is.

This in no way changes anything I’ve said about science and facts. Please learn something about science.

squidgeny
Member
squidgeny
July 11, 2012 1:49 PM

Give it up Ivan, just vape the thread smile

Drunk Vegan
Member
July 11, 2012 10:09 PM

“Facts are unimportant in science, because they have no intrinsic value.” And the award for the most ridiculous statement of this thread goes to… Don’t worry though, we know what meant. “Facts have a well-known liberal bias.”

Corrie Engelbrecht
Guest
July 11, 2012 10:55 PM
*sigh* Light is fast. Light moved at C. Those are facts. Great. They’re true. So what? In the hierarchy of importance, facts are at the lowest level. They are therefore unimportant. Theories, such as the Theory of Relativity, are at the highest level of importance. If you think my statement is ridiculous, it’s because you have previously held beliefs, in which facts have value, and theories do not have value, because you deem theories to be unproven, while somehow facts are proven and therefore you think – completely incorrectly – that facts have value. But facts have no intrinsic value. Only theories have value, because theories can explain things, and also predict things. Facts, in the scientific method,… Read more »
Drunk Vegan
Member
July 12, 2012 6:22 AM
Wow, you assume a lot about where I’m coming from based on a two sentence reply. I’ll ignore most of your statement which is essentially just reiterating your statement that facts are irrelevant, and just say this: Of course theories are important. I’m not at all confused with the difference between a theory and a hypothesis as many people are. But you’re looking at a pyramid, if you will, and you flat out say that the foundation of that pyramid “is unimportant and has no intrinsic value.” But remove that foundation and the entire structure collapses. One can concoct very cogent and brilliant theories based entirely on mathematics which are consistent and viable, but have absolutely no basis… Read more »
Corrie Engelbrecht
Guest
July 12, 2012 6:39 AM
I repeeted myself a lot, so that the message can get through. Unfortunately, you are very adept at evading knowledge. Facts are not irrelevant. I did not suggest they were. I placed facts on the lowest end on a scale of importance, because facts have no intrinsic value. Facts are not present in the pyramid you refer to. The basis of the pyramid are repeatable observations under strictly specified conditions. The result of an observation can be a fact, but still meaningless. Facts and observatios are not the same thing at all. Also, I never said you were confused about theories and hypotheses. I said you have previously held beliefs “, in which facts have value, and theories… Read more »
IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE
Member
IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE
July 12, 2012 11:46 AM

Also, observations NEVER EVER WILL CONFIRM a fact. The very notion is stupid.

So, according to you, if you find your wife in bed with another man, it will “NEVER EVER WILL CONFIRM a fact” that she’s having an affair, eh?

Corrie Engelbrecht
Guest
July 12, 2012 12:06 PM
It seems you’re starting to understand at last! In your scenario: 1. Observation: I find my wife in bed with the man 2. Fact: My wife is in bed with another man We can skip the math, model, hypothesis for the purposes of this explanation 3. Theory: My wife is having an affair (Note that even if this theory is conclusively proven to be true, it would still not be a fact. It would still be a theory.) 3a)To be correct in this, we need to confirm that the other man is not my baby boy, to take one example, because that would invalidate the theory. So now the theory is falsifiable. 3b) We could do more observations,… Read more »
IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE
Member
IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE
July 12, 2012 1:08 PM
Corrie Engelbrecht
Guest
July 12, 2012 1:12 PM

Oh well. No-one can’t say I haven’t tried. But I guess some people are wilfully ignorant.

Corrie Engelbrecht
Guest
July 11, 2012 1:25 PM
And PS: How about a reference from a medical textbook, published in 2008: http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=34093 There is no way that the abrasive qualities of moon dust is toxic. There has to be a chemical or poisonous effect to make it toxic. Or, as you’ve posted in your brilliantly well thought out comment, that there has to be a direct physical interference with biological processes due to the nature of the substance. Well, moon dust fails on all three counts, although there is a potential for it. I do not disagree that moon dust can be toxic. I disagree with the portrayal in the article above that moon dust should be called toxic, actually the whole moon, but that’s another… Read more »
gopher65
Member
gopher65
July 11, 2012 2:35 PM
No, you’re incorrect. If the medical textbook you quoted from doesn’t qualify its statement about toxicity, then it is at best incomplete. The main “toxicity” issue with lunar dust comes from the fact that the sharp particles of dust are so small that they can imbed themselves deep, in your lungs, where your body can’t remove them. They do two things: directly interfere with oxygen absorption, and 2) cut up the surrounding tissue every time they are jostled. They cause severe interference with the smallscale biological functions of lungs (rather than merely blocking airflow as larger, “non-toxic” dust might), and are thus toxic. The disease that would be caused by inhalation of lunar dust is similar to Silicosis.… Read more »
Corrie Engelbrecht
Guest
July 11, 2012 9:12 PM
1. Lol. Yes, the textbook is wrong, because it didn’t add false information to “qualify” things in a way that suits you. 2. If it’s true that moon dust interferes with oxygen absorption, then lunar dust is toxic. I am happy with this. However, the article summary, which is what I have a problem with, does not mention this at all. To cut up tissue is not something that makes anything toxic. 3. Hahaha. Let’s put the rest of that quote in here, Mr Cherry Picker: “Stanton and Layard hypothesized in 1977–78 that toxicity of fibrous materials is not initiated by chemical effects”. Oh, I see. So it’s a conclusive fact then, is it? Let’s not forget that… Read more »
Douglas Muir
Guest
July 11, 2012 12:25 PM
Dude, read the original article. They talk at some length about how and why moon dust could be carcinogenic. That includes the possibility of chemical reactions leading to protracted inflammation leading to cancer. They specifically discuss how it has chemical properties that could “interfere with biological processes” — i.e., the likely presence of large numbers of free radicals and excess electron sites on the surface of dust grains. In addition to that, the stuff is ALSO rough and abrasive. And (according to the original article) that could actually make it more toxic — individual dust grains have fractally complex sharp surfaces that will do damage to tissues and then present more surface for the toxicity reactions. That would… Read more »
Corrie Engelbrecht
Guest
July 11, 2012 12:31 PM

Well, while the arxiv paper is more clear about the potential toxicity, it does NOT state that moon dust is toxic because it can cut your skin or lungs.

This is my gripe with the article summary:
It does not accurately use the term “toxic” (while the linked article on arxiv does use the term correctly).

Zoutsteen
Member
Zoutsteen
July 11, 2012 12:45 PM

Jupiter is a planet, so the rubble between Mars and Jupiter is called …. asteroids. Hugs to Ceres to prove me wrong on this.

DinSel1
Guest
DinSel1
July 12, 2012 12:47 AM
Hey FUNNY TALKING FAT DUDE…. Asbestos does not “directly make you sick”, It takes 15 to 20 years from asbestos inhalation to lung cancer. First you whinge on about Moon dust being “non Toxic”, then when proven wrong you say ” If it’s true that moon dust interferes with oxygen absorption, then lunar dust is toxic. I am happy with this.” Here is a part of the article you might have skipped O THY FAT ONE. “Once inside the lungs the super-fine, sharp-edged lunar dust could cause a slew of health issues, affecting the respiratory and cardiovascular system and causing anything from airway inflammation to increased risks of various cancers. Like pollutants encountered on Earth, such as asbestos… Read more »
Corrie Engelbrecht
Guest
July 12, 2012 1:10 AM

1. Asbestos directly makes you sick: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/csem/csem.asp?csem=4&po=10

That one is from the CDC.

2. The explanations offered by the article summary above does not contain anything that can be used to classify moon dust as toxic. It only talks about the abrasive qualities moon dust has.

3. Fat one?

4. I did not miss the section you quoted. It’s about inflammation and infections resulting from cuts. This is not a toxic property either.

5. I have no references against Wikipedia. All my references agree with Wikipedia, but not with you.

Reading is a strong point of mine.

Comprehension is not a strong point of yours.

Corrie Engelbrecht
Guest
July 12, 2012 1:20 AM

Reply #2: Not to mention that cancer is potensial a side-effect of asbestos, and as I’ve already said, the cancer from asbestos is not the thing that makes asbestos toxic.

Asbestosis, a disease you directly contract from asbestos exposure, is what makes asbestos toxic.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001177/

Also, your logic is semi-crazy. It doesn’t matter how long it takes for symptoms to develop. If you’re sick, you’re sick.

You can contract the rhino virus and be sick immediately. But you won’t see symptoms for 2 days. But you’re still sick, whether or not you immediately see the symptoms.

Zoutsteen
Member
Zoutsteen
July 11, 2012 10:06 AM

Its a job … So when is the next trip to the Moon.

Kevin Frushour
Guest
July 11, 2012 10:28 AM

You put the cut right after “The moon itself may be toxic to humans” in bold. You really needed The Dramatic Chipmunk

Kevin Frushour
Guest
July 11, 2012 10:39 AM

The good news is they can put a magnet filter in the ventilation system to snag any big bits in the air/airlock.

squidgeny
Member
squidgeny
July 11, 2012 12:14 PM

I would think that if Martian dust was sharp like Lunar dust, it would have damaged Mars landers/rovers in a way that we would by now have detected (eg. scratched lenses, solar panels etc).

Lorin Ionita
Guest
Lorin Ionita
July 12, 2012 1:38 AM

Yup, that’s what I was thinking. Though I would think not having an atmosphere, the solar wind would take care of the erosion part for you. Or it does, just not enough?

squidgeny
Member
squidgeny
July 11, 2012 12:24 PM

I look forward to the Daily Mail article.

Now the MOON causes cancer, says so-called “scientists” (and guess who’s paying for them)

Stan Taylor
Guest
July 11, 2012 12:26 PM

So is Gray Lung going to be an issue for lunar prospectors?

Lawrence B. Crowell
Member
Lawrence B. Crowell
July 11, 2012 1:31 PM
Lunar regolith is physically and chemically different from sand, soil and dust on Earth. As the article indicates there has been physical erosion to reduce sharp points and concoidal fracture edges. Further, on Earth oxidation from the atmosphere changes the chemical properties of the surface of particulates. The biological response to physical damage from particulates can be complicated. Asbestos fibers set up a range of immune and cell-tissue responses. Any irritation to tissue induces a primary immune response which causes further irritation. This sends a cascade of signals that cause the secondary immune response. It also changes cell cycles in tissues. In the case of lung tissue this can induce an auto-immune disorder that destroys tissue, which is… Read more »
Rick Holcomb
Guest
July 11, 2012 2:17 PM

The solution doesn’t seem all that difficult. Every habitat has a ‘mud porch’ where your space suit gets a shower before you enter. Water runoff filtered and reused, of course.
That combined with designs where the spacesuit rarely comes in the habitat at all; instead is attached outside and entered from a back plate should, at least, considerably reduce the problem.

squidgeny
Member
squidgeny
July 11, 2012 3:06 PM
I think a gas duster would be the better option here. Water has two problems – it’s too viscous to get into the tiny grooves where dust could be found, and those filters would probably have to be replaced regularly. Also to recapture the water, you’d have to pressurize the mudporch, which would make it an expensive piece of equipment. So instead I propose a hose which expels a tiny jet of air, which could be used to loosen up dust off a surface. The mudporch would be nothing more than a grated metal platform, through which any loosened dust would fall to the surface below (and it would fall through the vacuum like a rock, not linger… Read more »
Rick Holcomb
Guest
July 11, 2012 11:45 PM

Sloppy writing on my part. I assumed people would understand that the mud porch would be inside a pressurised airlock. I’m not sure a gas jet would be better than water so let’s do both. You come in the airlock, pressurise, blast the nooks and cranies with an air jet, then hose everything down.
Good point about the water recirculation filters. I don’t think you’d want to carry enough to replace them every time they started getting clogged. There’s got to be a way to clean them, though. Maybe take ’em outside, let ’em freeze in the shadow of a rock and them bang them on the rock.

M Peter Selman
Guest
July 13, 2012 2:17 AM

Future space suits may remain outside and seldom enter a crewed habitat. With the ‘backpack’ functioning as a docking port and airlock, an astronaut may simply open a door on the wall and enter their suit. That should reduce contamination from outside. It will also be important for Manned Mars missions to reduce human contamination. Just let the suits stand outside and bathe in UV rays for most of the mission.

Bobr
Member
Bobr
July 11, 2012 4:40 PM

A good degaussing and an electro-static discharge station would help, too.

DinSel1
Guest
DinSel1
July 12, 2012 12:28 AM

Lets just hope the “recycled” water is only used for cleaning. Would not want to drink recycled water if it has come in contact with dust that has received high radioactive doses over millions of years.

Bobr
Member
Bobr
July 12, 2012 2:42 AM

Lunar meteorites have no more radioactivity than terrestrial rocks.

Your concern is unwarranted!

DinSel1
Guest
DinSel1
July 12, 2012 11:37 AM

Quote of the article above

“lunar dust particles are small enough to penetrate deep within lung tissues, and may be made even more dangerous by their long-term exposure to proton and UV radiation.”

Moon receives more harmful UV radiation then Earth does.

Bobr
Member
Bobr
July 12, 2012 3:09 PM

“May” is the operative word here.
I’m suspecting the author of that sentence doesn’t know what he/she is talking about, and made a very unscientific, silly guess.

Those are sterility suits scientists use studying Apollo rocks, not hazmat suits.
The lunar meteorites I’m in possession of didn’t come with a warning to “store in lead box”.

M Peter Selman
Guest
July 13, 2012 2:04 AM

Nasa has been developing a space suit that can be accessed through an airlock. That way, the suit can remain outside without contaminating the habitat. To enter, just open the door, jump inside your suit, close, detach, and walk.

David M. Kelly
Guest
July 11, 2012 2:56 PM

I’m kind of fascinated by line “the research is a step in the right direction as it looks to
ensure a safe environment for future explorers on the Moon”

I didn’t realize we’d reached the point that strapping people inside an upholstered bean can on top of a 3 million pound thrust rocket and sending them to live and work in a near vacuum was considered “safe”. smile

The dust is just one problem, but we can engineer around that if necessary. It does raise the question of whether the moon is worth returning to though. As a stepping stone for manned exploration to Mars or other planets, an orbital staging post seems likely to be more achievable.

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
July 11, 2012 3:11 PM

Two immediate problems:
– We want to go to the Moon anyway, for the science reasons Jason mentioned in his article. It is the only deposit, bar Mars, that have a record of Earth early history, including the period when life and plate tectonics got started. It is _so_ worth it!

– Even if we would only want to go to NEOs or Mars, we will have the same problem in spades. The Moon is a more convenient place to develop and test mitigation technologies if necessary.

David M. Kelly
Guest
July 11, 2012 3:38 PM

You’re right Torbjörn. I didn’t really mean that the moon should be avoided completely, more that its usefulness looking ahead may be limited. It’s definitely the easiest place to test mitigation technology.

NASA certainly tries to achieve high levels of safety and there’s nothing wrong with that. I just think that it’s a bit much to think of traveling to the moon (or anywhere else off the earth’s surface) as “safe” at our current and foreseeable level of technology. Some risk has to be accepted.

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
July 12, 2012 6:28 PM

Agreed.

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
July 11, 2012 3:07 PM
This seems to be a generic problem outside of Earth, which general physical and chemical dust properties we have evolved to handle. Dust from asteroids over regolith moons to Mars is largely impact created and radiation processed, and share the properties of being physically and chemically aggressive. Sharp, clingy and toxic. The martian perchlorates that are an excellent nutrient source for bacteria at environmental temperatures is also carcinogenic for animals at room temperatures. We have interesting exceptions on Earth that are informative. Asbestos fibers are cancerogenous for the exact same reason these dusts can be whatever their chemical makeup. “toxicity of fibrous materials is not initiated by chemical effects“. Mechanical damage induces a cellular response, which ends up… Read more »
Aqua4U
Member
July 11, 2012 3:09 PM

The comments below ignore one fact completely. For our eventual return to the Moon, we will have to commit ourselves to some sort of dust mitigation. As astronauts enter a habitat or transport their suits will need to be cleaned. Static charges must be dealt with by proper grounding or exposure to a mild alpha particle bombardment(?). Once within a pressurized environment, further cleaning using ultrasonics and air flow(s) might be the ‘ticket’?

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
July 11, 2012 3:29 PM

I think you missed several comments on cleaning.

Mostly though, the new suit technology means the suits are mounted external to the habitats and ingress is direct through a suit lock on the back. (Russian style.) They will not need external cleaning.

I don’t think we should plan for NASA going back to old style suits, when the plans for the new style were specifically developed to mitigate the dust problem.

squidgeny
Member
squidgeny
July 11, 2012 3:44 PM

Rick Holcomb mentioned that above, and it’s a superb idea. But it wouldn’t avoid the dust problem completely, would it? Surely there would be some dust on the backplate that could still sneak its way it.

Certainly makes the cleaning issue easier though.

Aqua4U
Member
July 11, 2012 5:34 PM

Any lunar space suit will need periodic maintenance. Externally mounted excursion suits attached to a rover OR excursion suites attached to a habitat will still need to be brought inside for inspection and/or repair.

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
July 12, 2012 6:27 PM

Only because repair is easier inside if possible, a property that they share with other equipment. This belongs to R&M problems, not egress problems.

Aqua4U
Member
July 11, 2012 6:59 PM

Am prettay sure this subject has been covered before at UT? Back then I mentioned that the cure might be to include an ultra thin wire webbing layer next to the outer layer(s) of the spacesuit. Run electric current thru the webbing or via a ground plane mounted on the habitat porch? Presto! No more static cling! Shake the rest off in a low pressure ante chamber with ultra sound while standing in a stream of air.

Sarv-NASA Incorporated
Guest
Sarv-NASA Incorporated
July 11, 2012 3:24 PM

Toxic ?…… Does anyone know, why the Lunar mission was called “APOLLO MISSION”……. and what happened to the piece of scalp lost to the dark witches (CROWS) ?……

squidgeny
Member
squidgeny
July 11, 2012 3:47 PM

Wikipedia has it that then NASA manager Abe Silverstein

thought that the image of “Apollo riding his chariot across the Sun was appropriate to the grand scale of the proposed program.”

cade22
Guest
cade22
July 11, 2012 4:13 PM

Geezzz Corrie…. I’m just a casual reader and your abrasive temperment is obvious to me. These folks just want to discuss ideas with friendly debate about what is or isn’t viable. Why not get with the program – you appear have something to offer in these discussions, but no sense of respect or dipolmacy.

wpDiscuz