Despite its beautiful, “crispy” appearance, lunar dust can be a nuisance to both man and machine, clogging gears and irritating lungs.
Now it looks as if scientists have developed an innovative way of removing these pesky particles without the need of hiring a professional lunar duster.
(New Scientist) To solve the problem, Clark’s team is working on SPARCLE, a “lunar dust buster” that astronauts could utilise in the airlock to a moon base. The device consists of a positively charged metallic nozzle fitted to an electron gun, similar to those used in electron microscopes, which fires a focused beam of electrons from a hot filament.
Following a moonwalk, astronauts would scan the beam across the surface of their dirty equipment, showering it with electrons until all the dust particles and the surface become negatively charged and start to repel one another. This would loosen the particles’ grip, allowing them to fly to the positively charged nozzle where they are captured.
While this technology will obviously benefit astronauts fortunate enough to explore Earth’s nearest neighbor, it will also help reduce “lunar chores” around a future space base (as our astronauts would probably rather work at the lab than dust it off).
(Hat Tip: Space Transport News)