During the first lunar missions, NASA discovered the dangerous nature of the moon’s dust. So as we get ready to head back, are we ready to deal with lunar dust?
Historically, some astronauts have had negative reactions to the moon’s dust. In 1972, Apollo 17’s Harrison ‘Jack’ Schmitt experienced a momentary sneezing fit, red eyes, itchy throat and clogged sinuses in response to lunar dust.
Considering that the moon’s dust is quite sharp and abrasive—similar to tiny shards of glass—coming into contact with lunar dust can result in health issues that are much more serious than a few allergy symptoms.
By taking a deep dive into some of the hazards that crewed moon missions might face, researchers are seriously looking into how to deal with the dangerous dust that can tear up spacesuits and clog equipment.
And with the 2019 NASA Artemis mission announcement, conducting research on how to protect astronauts from moon dust seems more timely and important than ever.
Find out more about the threat posed by lunar dust and some of the innovations that are being developed to limit its dangerous health impacts in this Elements.
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Moon Dust Could Be a Problem for Future Lunar Explorers
"Think of it as a flashback message from the Apollo moonwalkers: The moon is a Disneyland of dust."
Breathing in moon dust could release toxins in astronauts' lungs
"The surface of the moon is dusty – and nasty. The Apollo astronauts quickly learned that the sharp grains of moon dust could tear spacesuits and irritate their lungs, but now it seems the lunar surface is even worse for human health than we thought."