Several missions are set to land on the Moon in the coming decade, ushering in a new era of space exploration. Artemis III, 2025, will be the first mission to land on the Moon. But as more landers make their way to the moon, they’re at risk of increasing the overall threat moon dust poses to space exploration.
Moondust has always been a problem for astronauts on the moon. As spacecrafts land on the Moon, they will kick up more dust into orbit. The problem here is that this dust, or ejecta as scientists refer to it, would be ejected out of the atmosphere into orbit. The study says that while NASA’s Lunar Orbital Gateway will be okay, some other spacecraft may not.
The new research is available on the preprint server arXiv. According to the paper, other spacecraft “will sustain extensive damage with hundreds of millions of impacts per square meter.” While these particles of moon dust are very fine, the overall threat they pose to spacecraft cannot be simply written off.
The study states that dust particles could pose a danger to the lunar habitats as well, particularly when spacecraft are landing and taking off from the lunar satellite. Scientists are looking for a way to cut down on how much lunar dust is kicked up when spacecraft land and take off. This research, however, is in its early stages.
While moon dust concerns are valid and legitimate, scientists also have plans to use the dust on the surface of the Moon to create a dusty shield that will protect the Earth from harmful solar radiation. However, such a plan would come with its own set of risks.
It is crucial to get a better understanding of how moon dust can affect future missions and spacecraft, before NASA or other agencies begin to send more spacecrafts to the Moon.
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