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The evidence comes from an old Apollo experiment called LEAM, short for Lunar Ejecta and Meteorites. "Apollo 17 astronauts installed LEAM on the moon in 1972," explains Timothy Stubbs of the Solar System Exploration Division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "It was designed to look for dust kicked up by small meteoroids hitting the moon's surface."
It's even possible that these storms have been spotted from Earth: For centuries, there have been reports of strange glowing lights on the moon, known as "lunar transient phenomena" or LTPs. Some LTPs have been observed as momentary flashes--now generally accepted to be visible evidence of meteoroids impacting the lunar surface. But others have appeared as amorphous reddish or whitish glows or even as dusky hazy regions that change shape or disappear over seconds or minutes. Early explanations, never satisfactory, ranged from volcanic gases to observers' overactive imaginations (including visiting extraterrestrials).
Now a new scientific explanation is gaining traction. "It may be that LTPs are caused by sunlight reflecting off rising plumes of electrostatically lofted lunar dust," Olhoeft suggests.
All this matters to NASA because, by 2018 or so, astronauts are returning to the Moon. Unlike Apollo astronauts, who never experienced lunar sunrise, the next explorers are going to establish a permanent outpost. They'll be there in the morning when the storm sweeps by.
The wall of dust, if it exists, might be diaphanous, invisible, harmless. Or it could be a real problem, clogging spacesuits, coating surfaces and causing hardware to overheat.
What could cause this? Stubbs has an idea: "The dayside of the moon is positively charged; the nightside is negatively charged." At the interface between night and day, he explains, "electrostatically charged dust would be pushed across the terminator sideways," by horizontal electric fields.