Moon dust is deadly to humans. Satellite of the Earth is not suitable for colonization?

What is moon dust?

When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin returned from the moon, they had

there were over 20 kilograms of lunar soil and rocks, which were packed in an aluminum container with seals.

Thanks to them, the inside was kept lowpressure - as on the lunar surface. But when the container got to the scientists at the Houston space center, they found that the seals were destroyed by moon dust.

Moon dust is fine as powder, but it does not cutworse than glass. This dust is formed when meteorites fall on the lunar surface. They heat and pulverize rocks and soil that contain quartz and iron.

And since there is no wind or water on the moon to round off the cutting edges, the tiny grains are very sharp and jagged. And they stick to almost everything.

The aggressive nature of moon dust presentsa more serious problem for engineers and for the health of settlers than radiation. This dust stained the suits and removed the soles of the moon boots in layers. During the six Apollo flights, low pressure could not be maintained in any container with lunar rock. The dust penetrated after the astronauts and into the spaceships. According to Schmitt, she smelled like gunpowder and made it difficult to breathe.

Garriosn Schmitt, Apollo 17 astronaut

Where is moon dust located?

Dust does not just cover the surface of the moon, itrises to almost a hundred kilometers above it, making up part of its exosphere, where particles are attached to the moon by gravity, but are located so rarely that they almost never collide.

In the 1960s, Surveyor probes captured a brillianta cloud that floated directly above the lunar surface at sunrise. Later, Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan, circling the moon, recorded a similar phenomenon in the region of the sharp line, where the lunar day meets night, calling it the Terminator. Cernan made some sketches showing how the dusty landscape is changing.

At first, streams of dust rose from the surface andhovered, and then the resulting cloud became more clearly visible as the spacecraft approached the daylight zone. And since there was no wind to form the cloud, its origin remained a mystery. There is speculation that such clouds are composed of dust, but no one understands how they form and why.

Perhaps on the line of day and night it will formelectric field when sunlight meets shadow. It may well lift dust particles up. Physicist from the University of Colorado Boulder, Mihály Horányi, has demonstrated that moon dust can indeed react to such electric fields.

However, he suspects that this mechanism is not powerful enough to keep the mysterious glittering clouds in space.

Lunar librations

Where does moon dust come from?

The moon consists of crust, mantle (asthenosphere),the properties of which are different and form four layers, in addition, the transition zone between the mantle and the core, as well as the core itself, which has an outer liquid and an inner solid part. The atmosphere and hydrosphere are practically absent.

The surface of the moon is covered with regolith - a mixturefine dust and rocky debris formed as a result of collisions of meteorites with the lunar surface. Impact-explosive processes accompanying a meteorite bombardment contribute to loosening and mixing of the soil, simultaneously sintering and compacting soil particles. The thickness of the regolith layer ranges from fractions of a meter to tens of meters.

Moon soil composition

The composition of the lunar soil differs significantly in the marine and continental regions of the Moon. There is little water in the lunar rocks. The moon is also depleted in iron and volatiles.

There is also a lot of oxygen in the lunar regolith,included in the composition of oxides, and the most common of the latter is silicon dioxide - 42.8%. AMS "Luna-20" delivered soil from the mainland region, "Luna-16" from the sea.

The lunar surface can be divided into two types:

  1. very old mountainous terrain (lunar continents),
  2. relatively smooth and younger lunar seas.

Lunar "seas", which are approximately16% of the entire surface of the Moon is huge craters created by collisions with celestial bodies that were later flooded with liquid lava. Most of the surface is covered with regolith. Due to the influence of the gravitational moment during the formation of the Moon, its "seas", under which lunar probes have found denser, heavier rocks, are concentrated on the side of the satellite facing the Earth.

Thorium concentration map on the lunar surface according to data Lunar prospector

Is moon dust dangerous?

All indications are that yes.

Multiple missions spaceshipApollo was able to deliver to Earth dust collected from the surface of our planet's satellite. Experts have conducted research and found that moon powder enters into a negative reaction with the cells of the human body.

Scientists exposed the tissues of first rodents, and then people to the effect of an analogue of moon dust. The cells did not like this very much - about 90% died as a result.

This is a pretty big problem in itself:If in open space a sealed spacesuit protects from dust, then in the future, when exits become massive, small particles will inevitably penetrate into an artificially created environment.

Considering that fine, omnipresent dustcaused a lot of problems for astronauts, ordinary people can be threatened. The engineers promise that in the coming years they will actively work to protect humanity from this threat.

Moon dust irritated astronautseyes, and some have sinusitis. According to Eugene Cernan, crew commander of Apollo 17. It seems to settle in every corner, in every crack of the spaceship and in every pore of your skin.

Evgeny Slyuta, Head of the Laboratory of Geochemistry of the Moon and Planets, Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences

Slyuta noted that large particles of dust are coughing up, while fine particles (less than 20 microns in size) remain inside the lungs. For example, occupational diseases in miners are associated with this.

Colonization of the Moon

The moon is the closest and best studied celestial body and is considered a candidate for the site of a human colony.

NASA developed a space program"Constellation", within the framework of which new space technology should be developed and the necessary infrastructure created to support flights of a new spacecraft to the ISS, as well as flights to the Moon, the creation of a permanent base on the Moon and, in the future, flights to Mars.

However, by the decision of US President Barack Obama on February 1, 2010, funding for the program in 2011 was terminated.

Russian scientists have identified the 14 mostprobable points of landing. Each of the landing sites measures 30 × 60 km. Future lunar bases are at the experimental stage, in particular, the first successful tests of self-reclosing of spacecraft in the event of meteorite hitting have already been carried out.

In the future, Russia is going to apply at the polesLunar cryogenic (low-temperature) drilling for delivery to the Earth of soil interspersed with volatile organic substances. This method will allow organic compounds that are frozen on the regolith not to evaporate.

Buzz Aldrin on the Moon, July 1969 (NASA photo)

In 2024, American astronauts will make theirfirst steps towards the Moon's South Pole: an area of ​​extreme light, extreme darkness and frozen water that can serve as a breeding ground for NASA's lunar base Artemis.

Scientists and engineers help NASA determine the exactthe location of the Artemis base camp concept. Among the many factors that a space agency must consider when choosing a particular location, there are two key features.

First, the site must be underconstant sunlight to power the base; and moderate sudden changes in temperature. Second, it should provide easy access to darkened areas where ice water can be.

However, newer discoveries may make this work difficult: astronauts may need more protection while exploring the moon. In addition, the ship must be ready to meet the dust of the moon.

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