According to a recent study, liquid nitrogen has been identified as a promising solution to the problem of Moondust accumulation in spacesuits. Since the early days of Moon exploration, astronauts have been searching for ways to keep their suits clean, as the powdery dust that covers the Moon’s surface can be harmful to both equipment and human health.
In the past, abrasive brushes were used to remove the dust from the suits, but they were found to cause damage to the suit’s material over time. The need to maintain the integrity of the spacesuits is critical, as excess dust can interfere with the suit’s seals, putting the astronaut’s safety at risk.
Moreover, the toxicity of Moondust is a growing concern, as exposure to it can lead to serious health issues such as “lunar hay fever,” a condition caused by dust particles coming into contact with human cells. Therefore, the use of liquid nitrogen as a cleaning agent could prove to be a game-changer in ensuring the safety of future lunar missions.
NASA’s Artemis missions aim to establish a more permanent presence on the Moon’s surface, making it necessary for scientists to develop more effective methods for removing Moon dust from spacesuits. This is where the recent study comes in, which suggests that liquid nitrogen could be the solution.
The researchers tested the theory by covering Barbies, who were outfitted with makeshift spacesuits, in volcanic ash, which has a similar composition to Moon dust. They then sprayed the suited Barbies with liquid nitrogen, which caused the volcanic ash to be repelled from the suits with minimal damage to the suits themselves. The study suggests that liquid nitrogen could be a more efficient method for removing Moon dust from spacesuits than abrasive brushes, which were previously used.
NASA has recognized the significance of this discovery and awarded the researchers for their work. Perhaps future Artemis missions will incorporate the use of liquid nitrogen or a similar substance for cleaning spacesuits, but other methods may also emerge as scientists continue to investigate the issue. Regardless of the solution, the importance of keeping spacesuits clean on future lunar missions cannot be overstated.