*Packing for Mars*

Dust is the lunar astronaut’s nemesis.  With no water or wind to smooth them, the tiny, hard moon rock particles remain sharp.  They scratched faceplates and camera lenses during Apollo, destroyed bearings, clogged equipment joints.  Dusting on the moon is a fool’s errand.  Unlike on the Earth, where the planet’s magnetic field wards off charged particles of solar wind, these particles bombard the moon’s surface and impart an electrostatic charge.  Moon dust clings like dryer socks.  Astronauts who stepped from the Lunar Module in gleaming white marshamllow suits returned a few hours later looking like miners.  The Apollo 12 suits and long johns became so filthy that at one point, astronaut Jim Lovell told me, the crew “took off all their underwear and they were naked for half the way home.”

That is from Mary Roach’s new book, subtitled The Curious Science of Life in the Void.


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