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Microwave 'lunar lawnmower' to deal with menace Moon dust

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posted on Nov, 15 2005 @ 09:02 PM

Astronauts who think joining a lunar colony would mean no more Earthly chores should reconsider. One important task for any future Moon residents could well be mowing the lunar lawn.

,lunar astronauts have complained of dust sticking to their space suits and getting into seals. Several even reported respiratory problems and itchy eyes as a result of exposure to dust carried into lunar landers. The dust also caused problems for mechanical and electronic equipment.

Fortunately for future colonists, Lawrence Taylor, a planetary geologist at the University of Tennessee, US, has devised a way to combat this Moon menace - a "lunar lawnmower". In place of whirling blades, however, the machine would use microwaves to force dust particles to clump together.

Taylor tested genuine lunar dust in a 250-watt microwave oven on Earth and discovered that, after just 30 seconds, the grains fused together. This is because there are nanometre-sized particles of iron present on nearly every grain of lunar soil and microwaves cause the iron particles to couple together. The powdery dust is quickly fused together into a glassy substance, he told a Lunar Exploration Advisory Group conference at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, US, in October.

Dust the job
Taylor says fusing the dust would reduce the risk to astronauts and their gear. At first, astronauts might just “mow” a fairly small area where they were living and working, he suggests. That way, they would still be able to collect unspoiled soil samples from the landscape. Later, for example, entire craters could be mowed to provide a flat foundation for instruments, such as a giant radio telescope.

On the surface of the Moon, a microwave mower could be hauled behind a lunar rover. The mower would feature several magnetrons – the same component used to generate microwaves inside a microwave oven.


I wonder if a glassy surface is the best thing to be walking around on...

posted on Nov, 15 2005 @ 10:33 PM
wouldn't the effects be only temporary tho? and the energy requirments would be rather inefficiant comapred to simple air filters or scrubbers

I agree fine dust would be a problem like it is for any desert on earth, mars would have the same problem as our moon

posted on Nov, 15 2005 @ 10:39 PM
Actually Moon dust is a whole different matter. It's microscopic structure is very alien looking when compared to dust on earth. It more resembles Asbestos then Earth Dust and one of the Astronaughts described the smell like burnt sulfer (it's also electrostatically charged and stuck to the suits and when they got in to the capsule they broght it in with them and well Zero G you get the picture). When thinking of it microsopically think very rigid with no smooth edges(or very little) and lots of hooks and nooks to grab onto the lining of your lungs, very nasty stuff I believe that more then a few Moonwalkers suffered lung problems for a protracted period of time)

[edit on 15-11-2005 by sardion2000]


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