Apollo measurements of lunar dust amidst geology priorities

Published on Mar 1, 2012in Australian Journal of Earth Sciences1.283
· DOI :10.1080/08120099.2011.653984
Brian J. O'Brien2
Estimated H-index: 2
(UWA: University of Western Australia)
Geology dominated the science of the six successful Apollo lunar sampling expeditions. About 380 kg of rocks and soils were collected in 2400 samples, along with many thousands of documenting photos. Lunar dust shrouding Moonscapes, obscuring and coating rock samples, was a nuisance for geologist-advisers and plagued each astronaut with its inescapable presence, sticking to every surface. Lunar dust was judged by Apollo 17 geologist-astronaut Harrison Schmitt as ‘No. 1 environmental problem on the Moon.’ As fine as talcum powder but more abrasive than sandpaper, dust jeopardised vacuum sealing of sample containers to preserve rocks free from terrestrial contamination, just as later at Houston it jeopardised long-term archives of lunar samples. Yet the only one type of Apollo experiment to measure dust and its movements in situ was a matchbox-sized Dust Detector Experiment (DDE) weighing 270 g deployed on Apollo 11, 12, 14 and 15 Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Packages (ALSEPs), which transmitted DDE data...
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