Make the Dust Fly
Posted: May 1, 2023
Imagine you’re an astronaut. You return to your spacecraft after a walk on the Moon. But you’ve got a problem. You’re covered in Moon dust.
Crushed lunar rock is pesky. It sneaks into astronauts’ lungs. It sticks to spacesuits and equipment. Why not brush it off? If only it were that simple.
Moon dust is electrostatic. Picture the way clothes rub against each other in a dryer. They make static electricity. Static cling makes clothes hard to separate. Moon dust has the same kind of stubborn grip.
Brushes and vacuum cleaners don’t remove Moon dust well. They also damage spacesuits. Researchers at Washington State University wanted answers. They used small helpers to tackle the job.
Scientists dressed Barbie dolls in spacesuits. They coated the dolls with messy grit like volcanic ash from Mount St. Helens. They placed the dolls into a vacuum chamber. Staff sprayed pressurized liquid nitrogen to blast away dust.
It worked! Liquid nitrogen removed more than 98 percent of the fake Moon dust in 233 tests. It also caused little damage to spacesuits.
Pressurized liquid nitrogen grabs dust because of the Leidenfrost Effect. Liquid droplets hover over a surface that is much hotter than the liquid’s boiling point. Have you ever poured cold water into a scalding pan? The water forms beads on the pan’s surface. The cold liquid nitrogen hovered over the warmer spacesuits. It captured dust particles in droplets and floated away.
NASA staff members work to find more ways to remove Moon dust. God gives people resources to solve many kinds of challenges.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach. — James 1:5
Why? People at NASA inspire us with their creative efforts. They work hard to come up with solutions that help many.
Pray: Ask God for help when you run into obstacles. He stands ready to equip you every day.