The last thing you think of to worry about when traveling to the Moon is the dust and dirt you might pick up on your spacesuit and technical gear. However, it is a very relevant issue to take into account due to the possibility of contamination or damage to the tools. By adhering especially well, it is difficult to get rid of. One solution could be to scatter electrons .
Moon dust easily adheres to all types of surfaces, from spacesuits to work tools or scientific instruments. A particularly curious case is that of the mirrors deposited on the Moon to measure the distance to it , now covered with dust.
Dust on the surface of the Moon is stickier compared to earth dust . The reason it is so sticky is that it is continuously bathed in radiation from the Sun, which gives the dust an electrical charge. Furthermore, moon dust can also be very uneven and abrasive, like broken glass shards.
An electron beam gun
In an investigation of the University of Colorado Boulder they detail a new method in which they are working to clean the lunar dust of the objects. The idea is to use a beam of electrons to remove the tiny dust . They indicate that a concentrated stream of low-energy, negatively charged particles is sufficient to cause dust to shoot off surfaces. In fact, it is what they have achieved in a vacuum chamber.
As they are low energy current loads, they ensure that it is safe for astronauts, after all, one of the things that should be cleaned are their suits. When firing these charges of electrons on a surface where there is dust, it immediately flies off, since the negative charge interacts with the positive charge of the dust.
An electron beam gun or shower certainly sounds more interesting than a broom or rag. However, there is still work to be done so that we can see it in real use for astronauts traveling to the Moon. Their researchers indicate that they still want to make the electron beam somewhat more powerful and shoot more negative energy.
At the moment, with a material designed by NASA and very similar to lunar dust, they have managed to clean the surfaces by approximately 75% . For the Artemis 2024 mission it is probably not ready, for future ones it may be.
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