Recognizing the Moon dust could be one of the biggest problems facing lunar colonists, NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate is conducting research in the Mojave Desert to find ways to cope with the ubiquitous substance.
Measuring dust ejecta. One project involves a sensor for measuring the ejecta — gravel, small rocks, and lots of dust — that shoot out from the landing zone when a vehicle lands on the Moon. “This can cause widespread damage from sandblasting spacecraft surfaces and solar cells to actually striking and breaking optical sensors or other instruments, says Philip Metzger, a planetary physicist at the University of Central Florida.
“Having ejecta sensor data from actual lunar missions can help us improve those recommendations and will also help us protect the new spacecraft we’re sending to the Moon and even spacecraft orbiting around it – all of which is important not just to the U.S. but to the international space community as well,” Metzger said in a NASA publication. “And then we can develop physics equations that are truly predictive to inform mitigation strategies.”