Magnetic Moondust Brush in Space

Magnetic Mood DustWho would have thought that a simple everyday item such as the magnet would become such a big help to NASA astronauts? Apparently, moondust is the cause of much grief to astronauts and the equipment they bring. Moondust is as super fine grit that gets everywhere causing instrumental problems, as well as just being irritating.

A discovery by Professor Larry Taylor, director of the Planetary Geosciences Institute at the University of Tennessee conducted an experiment that would answer a lot of questions. In his experiment he ran a magnet over a sample of moondust and all the fine particles immediately stuck to the magnet. Moondust has a thin layer of iron coating each particle that makes them attracted to magnets.

He had this to say about the experiment, “Only the finest grains (< 20 microns) respond completely to the magnet,” notes Taylor, but that’s okay because the finest dust was often the most troublesome. Fine grains were more likely to penetrate seals at the joints of spacesuits and around the lids of “pristine” sample containers. And when astronauts tramped into the Lunar Module wearing their dusty boots, the finest grains billowed into the air where they could be inhaled. This gave at least one astronaut (Schmitt) a case of “moondust hay fever.”

He has gone on to develop a prototype air filter that will collect all the dust particles and when it gets dirty, you just pull it out and the particles fall into a container. He is also in the process of working on a dust brush that will aid in keeping astronaut visors free of debris.

This simple experiment has opened up a whole new way of thinking regarding space expeditions.

Magnetic Mood DustWho would have thought that a simple everyday item such as the magnet would become such a big help to NASA astronauts? Apparently, moondust is the cause of much grief to astronauts and the equipment they bring. Moondust is as super fine grit that gets everywhere causing instrumental problems, as well as just being irritating.

A discovery by Professor Larry Taylor, director of the Planetary Geosciences Institute at the University of Tennessee conducted an experiment that would answer a lot of questions. In his experiment he ran a magnet over a sample of moondust and all the fine particles immediately stuck to the magnet. Moondust has a thin layer of iron coating each particle that makes them attracted to magnets.

He had this to say about the experiment, “Only the finest grains (< 20 microns) respond completely to the magnet,” notes Taylor, but that’s okay because the finest dust was often the most troublesome. Fine grains were more likely to penetrate seals at the joints of spacesuits and around the lids of “pristine” sample containers. And when astronauts tramped into the Lunar Module wearing their dusty boots, the finest grains billowed into the air where they could be inhaled. This gave at least one astronaut (Schmitt) a case of “moondust hay fever.”

He has gone on to develop a prototype air filter that will collect all the dust particles and when it gets dirty, you just pull it out and the particles fall into a container. He is also in the process of working on a dust brush that will aid in keeping astronaut visors free of debris.

This simple experiment has opened up a whole new way of thinking regarding space expeditions.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published.