Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Collecting Lunar Soil By Lunar Vacuum

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One of the biggest problems with lunar dust is the fact that these small particles can not only damage robots upon the surface, but human lungs as well.

Since future colonists are going to need to get "their hands dirty" in order to build a home on this world, several researchers have proposed sucking up the dirt instead of creating a dust cloud through a dig.

(New Scientist Space) Future astronauts living on the Moon will need lots of water, oxygen and other resources that can be extracted from the lunar soil, or regolith.

But collecting the large quantities needed with front-end loaders and dump trucks could throw up a lot of dust. That could cause a host of problems, since the tiny, jagged dust particles could clog machinery and even harm astronauts' health if inhaled[.] [...]

The idea is to build a flexible tube with magnetic coils spaced at regular intervals along its length. Because lunar soil particles contain a lot of iron, the magnetic field produced by the coils would suck the soil into the tube and whisk it along its length.

Extracting the soil this way may not only prove to be far more effective, but less time consuming as well. Although humanity will eventually have to dig below the surface do to meteorite strikes, this technology should allow scientists and miners to quickly gather a large amount of lunar soil for either further analysis or potentially turning part of the dirt into breathable oxygen.

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You can either visit the stars or watch them from afar.

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~Darnell Clayton, 2007

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