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NASA - Areas of Study: Lunar Dust
October 13, 2009

Lunar Dusk

Here on Earth, dust can be bothersome, but it is mostly a harmless annoyance. In the space environment, however, dust can pose severe health and safety challenges.

Lunar dust is often contaminated by UV radiation and high iron content, making it detrimental to the human body. When it gets in the eyes or lungs, it can cause a potentially harmful chemical reaction. Lunar dust also has a unique configuration of small, fine particles with extremely sharp edges that can be dangerous when inhaled. Also, because lunar dust has an electrostatic charge, it can cling to any surface with which it comes in contact, making it particularly difficult to remove from surfaces like spacesuits, spacecraft, and equipment.

Because of the significant health and safety risks associated with lunar dust, this substance has been the focus of a substantial body of HRP research. Furthermore, because planned missions to Mars will necessitate the use of the lunar surface as a base of operations, HRP scientists are working to develop countermeasures to overcome the harmful properties of lunar dust and to prevent it from interfering with sensitive equipment.



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Page Last Updated: September 3rd, 2014
Page Editor: Jeffrey Brief