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View Full Version : Discussion: Don't Breathe the Moon Dust



Fraser
2005-Apr-22, 05:24 PM
SUMMARY: One of the big hazards for astronauts living on the Moon is going to be the dust; it gets everywhere, and is very dangerous to breathe. Lunar dust is similar to silica dust on Earth, which can cause silicosis, a disease that damages the lungs. Martian dust could be even more dangerous because it is a strong oxidizer - it could actually burn your skin if it touched. Future missions will need to control lunar and martian dust from getting inside spacecraft and habitats, and NASA is working on potential solutions.

View full article (http://www.universetoday.com/am/publish/dont_breathe_dust.html)

What do you think about this story? Post your comments below.

Greg
2005-Apr-23, 07:20 AM
I imagine there would be a good deal of regional variation, but this sort of thing makes one think twice before going to Mars. Nearly everything built there would either be prefabticated or processed before it would be safe for humans to touch. Not that it would even be possible, but just rolling down a sand dune with no spacesuit on would cause fatal burns.

Nick4
2005-Apr-24, 02:39 AM
Well this is a problome for the astronots, but i think we will find some solutions to getting around it. Good luck to them.

dave_f
2005-Apr-24, 06:05 AM
Originally posted by Greg@Apr 23 2005, 02:20 AM
I imagine there would be a good deal of regional variation, but this sort of thing makes one think twice before going to Mars. Nearly everything built there would either be prefabticated or processed before it would be safe for humans to touch. Not that it would even be possible, but just rolling down a sand dune with no spacesuit on would cause fatal burns.
Your point on astronauts not surviving on Mars without a spacesuit is absolutely correct.

eburacum45
2005-Apr-24, 08:54 AM
Yes; it would not be possible to stand on Mars without a space suit; but this finding suggest that the soil would be so dangerous it would need to be removed from the space suit after each Marswalk, and that would be a difficult problem.
Especially as there would be a very limited amount of water to clean the suit with.

Hexavalent chromium if present would be a particularly worrying particulate to bring inside the habitat; so the procedure for getting suited up would be very long and difficult, even more so if carried out inside a vehicle. In fact Mars rovers would soon fill up with potentially hazardous dust.

Rather than attempting large scale colonisation of Dry Mars, probably the best idea would be to remain in orbit (perhaps living on or around Phobos and Deimos, which seem to have reserves of water and carbon), while the planet is repeatedly bombarded by volatile rich artificial comets from beyond the obit of Uranus. Supposedly, this bombardment would be relatively easy to arrange, as the orbits of Centaur-type objects are loose and easy to adjust (although the speed of impact might be high).
Once the surface of Mars is a little wetter the dust should be easier to handle, and some of the toxic properties might be leached away.

Spacemad
2005-Apr-24, 09:44 AM
eburacum45


Rather than attempting large scale colonisation of Dry Mars, probably the best idea would be to remain in orbit (perhaps living on or around Phobos and Deimos, which seem to have reserves of water and carbon), while the planet is repeatedly bombarded by volatile rich artificial comets from beyond the obit of Uranus. Supposedly, this bombardment would be relatively easy to arrange, as the orbits of Centaur-type objects are loose and easy to adjust (although the speed of impact might be high).


The idea of "bombarding" Mars with comets, while attractive in theory, would be an extremely dangerous plan - though by the time such technological advances by the human race made such a thing possible I imagine that we will have learnt how to live on Mars with or without great quantities of water.

If, as recent finding seem to indicate, there is abundant water on Mars - just out of reach for the moment - there will be no need to "bombard" the Red Planet with comets. Not that it is ever likely to become a "Green Planet" however great the reserves might be. The low gravity & the extreme temperature will combine to cause the water to evaporate or freeze again.

Guest
2005-Apr-24, 10:49 AM
As it happens, bombarding the frozen surface with comets is a quick way of melting the frozen reserves; the kinetic energy released would melt the ice there and raise the atmospheric pressure and atmospheric temperature, causing more ice to melt. It may not be necessary to have many such impacts before the atmospheric pressure on Mars begis to rise on its own, as the subsurface ice melts.

Contrary to many people's belief, Mars could hold on to an Earth-like atmosphere for millions of years; it took between one hundred and six hundred million years for Mars to lose its original atmosphere, which may admittedly have been thicker than the atmosphere now present on Earth.
So it is probably worth doing in the medium term.

eburacum45
2005-Apr-24, 10:50 AM
Logs in to claim previous post.

Added; a less violent way to heat Mars would be by using ststite mirrors; but I still believe that volatiles from the outer system (particularly nitrogen) would be needed to bring Mars to a habitable state. Impact is the quickest and cheapest way.

Greg
2005-Apr-24, 10:48 PM
My comment on the sand dunes was an attempt at humor and not to be taken seriously.
Surface temperatures on Mars in regions near the equator reach 50 degrees during the daytime quite frequently. I do not think a human could take off a pressurized suit due to nearly absent atmospheric pressure, however. If one would do so inside a pressurized habitat, then exposure to martian soil would still quickly cause toxic burns. So any habitat would have to be fabricated in a fashion to render the materials non-toxic. Not only will wall and a roof be enough, but a floor will also be needed. Construction equipment would have to be pre-made to be resisitant to oxidative/corrosive stress to remain functional. Keeping toxic and corrosive dust out of everything inside a habitat will be necessary and important to sustain a long-term presence on the planet. Any habitat would have to have a confinement room (or two) between the living quarters and the exit to change and remove dust so that can't get into and accumulate in the living area.
Silicosis is a rare disease, especially since serious attempts have been made to limit exposure to silicate dust internationally in miners (beginning in the UK in the 50s). It is a very serious and debilitating disease, however and should not be taken lightly. The effects are more or less like a combination of black lung and emphysema and once it starts it is hard to stop it from progressively getting worse, even after exposure is stopped, since the disease is mediated by the immune system after a signicant cumulative exposure. It is quite often fatal once it is advanced and very debilitating before that. It is something nobody wants to get and every effort should be made to limit exposure to silicate dust on a long-term basis since the extent of the disease depends mostly on the cumulative exposure.

rathi_cool1
2005-Apr-25, 02:27 AM
good luck to the astrounauts!!

Nick4
2005-Apr-25, 03:25 PM
This is an obstical but as i sed before we will get around it.

sam_lelime
2005-Apr-26, 02:41 AM
Gentlemen I don't completely agree with Professor Stein,

One Mars has an atmosphere, thin perhaps however it is more shielded from
the suns ionising radiations more so than the moon is..
and I believe that Iron oxide is in fact an oxidised substance requires high level of ionising radiation to further oxidise.
so I doubt its burn to the touch,, definitely poisons to breath in however...

as for terra forming mars so far I've heard

Nuke it.
asteroid bomb it.
solar disk around it
CFC it
Carbon bomb it from orbit

Joke!
I think try them all one is going to work :)
except asteroid thing yes the Solar system is full of moving objects that could
be knocked out of place and impact earth.