Apr 20, 2009
Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt called it the biggest environmental problem on the moon. His crewmate Eugene Cernan said it was "probably one of our greatest inhibitors" to lunar operations. What could pose such a dire threat? The pervasive, abrasive culprit: lunar dust.
The tiny grains cling to spacesuits and scientific instruments, causing myriad problems—clogging, abrasion, inhalation, obfuscation—for lunar visitors and the experiments they leave behind. In a new study using data from instruments installed on the moon in 1969, Brian O'Brien, a now-independent researcher in Floreat, Western Australia, and a former professor of space science at Rice University in Houston, determined that the angle of the sun in the lunar sky modulates the clinginess of the lunar dust. O'Brien's paper is set to be published in Geophysical Research Letters.
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The Seeker for this Challenge desires proposals for chemical methods that could rapidly degrade a dilute aqueous solution
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