Moon Dust Can Kill
Future astronauts preparing to operate on the moon, beware. High-speed dust is deadly, reports PhysOrg. With no atmosphere on the moon to slow its path, dust flying from rocket engines can blast anything in its path. “Small grit can travel enormous distances at high speeds, scouring everything in its path,” the article says – at speeds up to 2 kilometers per second.
Apollo astronauts didn’t experience this first-hand, because they were safe inside the lunar module when it took off. But when surveying the condition of Surveyor 3 on Apollo 12, the astronauts noticed a sand-blasted appearance on the side facing the Apollo lander.
This could prove disastrous to a future moon base. “This evidence concerns [Phil] Metzger [Kennedy Space Center] because in a future lunar outpost, high-speed fine grit could scour the reflective coating off thermal control blankets, roughen the surfaces of windows and other optics, compromise the surfaces of solar panels, and penetrate connectors or other mechanisms on digging machines or spacesuits, causing friction and even mechanical failure,” the article said. Getting farther away from the launch pad is no help: “Dust particles accelerated by a rocket’s exhaust could theoretically travel all the way around the Moon!”
Just one more reason to be thankful you live on God’s green Earth, nicest place in the solar system. Take a deep breath of fresh air, and smile.