Moon dust is in the news. The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) mission currently in lunar orbitis about to begin the science phase of examining the thin lunar exosphere and looking for signs of dust fountains and the curious glow of lofted dust on the lunar horizon as reported by several Apollo astronauts.
It’s soft, sticky, scratchy stuff that has a tendency to cling to everything and was responsible for ruining several scientific experiments, causing them to overheat. A big challenge on each Apollo mission was to stop it getting it inside the lunar module. John Young (Apollo 16) thought it tasted “not half bad, ” Gene Cernan (Apollo 17) said it smelled like spent gunpowder and Jack Schmitt (Apollo 17) developed the first case of lunar moondust “hay fever.”
Colour photograph of Jack Schmitt with his spacesuit covered in moondust.http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj
Apollo missions 12, 14 and 15 left scientific experiments on the Moon aimed at finding out how fast moondust would accumulate. Shielded and unshielded tiny solar detectors sent back data to Earth until 1977. NASA assumed the data had been lost until 40 years later the lunar scientist who developed the experiment, Brian O’Brien, said he had ...