Liquid Nitrogen Spray Could Prove to Be a Novel Tool for Moon Dust Mitigation

By: | March 5th, 2023

Image courtesy Wikimedia commons

As scientists are preparing for the Lunar settlement, they have to overcome numerous challenges. Despite the challenges of food to eat and oxygen to breathe, scientists also have to work to protect astronauts from the moon dust. 

Scientifically known as lunar regolith, Lunar dust is made of sharp, abrasive, and nasty particles. It clogs delicate instruments, and it’s so sharp that it scratches space suits. Moreover, it also absorbs sunlight and leads to overheating of sensitive electronics. So, Dust mitigation is a must for colonizing the Moon.

“Moondust is electrostatically charged, abrasive and gets everywhere, making it a very difficult substance to deal with,” said Ian Wells, first author of the paper and a senior in WSU’s School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. “You end up with a fine layer of dust as a minimum just covering everything.”

Thanks to liquid nitrogen spray developed by Washington State University researchers that can help overcome one of the significant challenges for future moon-landing astronauts. 

Researchers tested this spray in normal atmospheric conditions as well as in a vacuum similar to that in outer space. Although it worked in both conditions, it performed better in the vacuum. In a vacuum, this technique successfully removed 98.4% of the dust particles.

Now, Scientists are planning to conduct further tests for a better understanding of the complex interactions between dust particles and liquid nitrogen. They are also working to further test the technology in conditions that more closely simulate those on the lunar surface. 

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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