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Risk of Adverse In-Mission Health and Performance Effects and Long-Term Health Effects Due to Celestial Dust Exposure (Dust Risk)


dust devil plume
NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter caught most of a dust devil plume in this 2008 image. The HiRise camera team said, “We got lucky, although not lucky enough to capture the whole swirl in the color strip.”

Lunar dust exposure has not been a hazard since the 1972 Apollo missions. Data collected at that time has provided insight and many years of research. Due to the unique properties of lunar dust (and other celestial bodies), there is a possibility that exposure could lead to serious health effects (e.g., respiratory, cardiopulmonary, ocular, or dermal harm) to the crew or impact crew performance during celestial body missions. Limits have been established based on detailed peer-reviewed studies completed by the Lunar Atmosphere Dust Toxicity Assessment Group (LADTAG) and are specific to the conditions relevant to the lunar surface. The risk will need to be reassessed to ensure appropriate containment if samples are being stored in a habitable environment. 

The last complete image of asteroid moonlet Dimorphos
The last complete image of asteroid moonlet Dimorphos, taken by the DRACO imager on NASA’s DART mission from ~7 miles (12 kilometers) from the asteroid and 2 seconds before impact. The image shows a patch of the asteroid that is 100 feet (31 meters) across. Ecliptic north is toward the bottom of the image. This image is shown as it appears on the DRACO detector and is mirror flipped across the x-axis from reality.

Directed Acyclic Graph Files

+ DAG File Information (HSRB Home Page)

+ Celestial Dust Risk DAG and Narrative (PDF)

+ Celestial Dust Risk DAG Code (TXT)

Human Research Program

+ Risk of Celestial Dust Exposure

+ 2015 August Evidence Report (PDF)



Last Updated
Mar 11, 2024
Robert E. Lewis