NASA has developed an innovative spray that could solve one of the biggest challenges of space missions: lunar dust. Lunar dust is composed of small particles that are abrasive and electrostatically charged, making it very difficult to deal with. In addition, it can damage spacesuits, machinery, and equipment, and in extreme cases, it can affect the health of astronauts if the particles are inhaled.
To address this problem, researchers at Washington State University have created a liquid nitrogen aerosol that removes almost all of the simulated lunar dust from the spacesuit. The aerosol uses the Leidenfrost effect, which occurs when cold water is poured into a hot pan and collects and moves over the surface of the pan. When very cold liquid nitrogen is sprayed on a warmer, dust-covered spacesuit, the dust particles accumulate and float with the nitrogen vapor.
In a vacuum environment, the liquid nitrogen spray removed 98% of the lunar dust simulant and caused minimal damage to the spacesuits. This invention could be very useful for the Artemis III lunar mission, which aims to return humans to the Moon.
The research team points out that the use of this spray could provide an effective solution to the problem of lunar dust on space missions. They also point out that the method is safe for astronauts and does not damage equipment. It is important to mention that the spray is still in the experimental phase, and further testing will be necessary before it can be used on an actual space mission. However, the results obtained so far are very promising and could contribute to making space missions safer and more effective.
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