JRNM 151 Student
Dr. Kenneth Street, a recently retired NASA Research Associate, spoke at Lorain County Community College about the possibilities of living on the moon and the chances that the moon could be used as a landing point to get to Mars.
When speaking to a collection of LCCC students and staff, Dr. Street said that the main concern of being on the moon for any extended period of time is the amount of dust. “Micrometeorites pelt the moon at 44,000 miles per hour. These things hit every square yard of the moon once a day for the last 4.5 billion years,” Street said during his presentation.
These micrometeorites are smaller than the diameter of a piece of hair, Street explained. Once they hit the moon, they essentially explode and create extremely fine dust particles.
“It gets everywhere.” Street told a story of a shovel that was taken up on one of the Apollo missions. The shovel would not close back up because all of the mechanisms were clogged with dust. “Everything we brought up there failed one way or another because of dust.”
There were many problems with the Apollo missions that were attributed to dust. These would still be issues today. The spacecraft, when about a hundred feet off the surface of the moon, would begin to give false readings because of the amount of dust being kicked up. The crew was not sure how fast they were coming in because of the false readings.
There was also an issue with vision because of the dust. “They actually landed straddling a crater, so they landed at an angle of ten degrees.” Street continued, “Eleven degrees is where you can’t lift off, which would have meant loss of vehicle, loss of crew.”
The dust is piled up anywhere from five to ten meters on the moon. Street said, “The first thing the crew did when they left the spacecraft and stepped foot on the moon was slipped and fell.” Because of the dust, there was no traction for any vehicles or persons to move around.
The dust also scratched everything, broke seals, and found its way into the spacesuits. Street said that every time they would do a walk on the moon, the astronauts could come back in the space craft with as much as two to three pounds of dust in their suit. This caused for extensive cleaning time, as well as inhalation and irritation by the dust.
The dust would begin to make things overheat. The dune buggy that they used would get covered in the dust. The battery compartment could not cool down because the dust particles acted as an insulator. “When they opened the compartment to try and let the battery cool off, dust would get in and it acted like putting six blankets on it,” he said.
He also spoke about the possibility of going to Mars. Street said, “I don’t think anyone is going to go to Mars direct.” He said that if there was any way to overcome the dust, they could possibly make parts of ships on the moon and go from the moon to Mars. Street explained that the size of the ship to go from Earth to Mars, and back, would just be far too big to overcome both planets’ gravitational pulls.