There are many challenges in the pursuit of establishing a long-term human presence on the moon. But one of the biggest challenges is actually one of the smallest: dust.
According to Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, “Dust is going to be the environmental problem for future missions, both inside and outside habitats.”
But now, NASA may have a solution to keep the dust blanketing the moon from hindering our efforts to live and work there. Lunar dust, the Apollo astronauts learned, gets everywhere. Its jagged shape can scratch delicate spacesuit surfaces, while its dark color absorbs sunlight, overheating vital electronics. Breathing it in can even incite hay fever-like symptoms when astronauts return from moonwalks and shed their dust-covered spacesuits. But a new paint-on coating initially designed to protect orbiting satellites might soon also be used on everything moon-bound.