The Smell of the Moon
How Many Times Has the U.S. Landed on the Moon?
Duke said it was really strong. Talking to Mission Control, Cernan pointed out that it "smells like someone just fired a carbine in here", referring to the Lunar Module.
It's true. It smells a bit like that. A bit metallic. Once you smell it, you can taste the metal in the middle part of your tongue.
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Which is weird, because even while regolith dust looks like gunpowder, its chemical composition is nothing like gunpowder. According to NASA:. Almost half is silicon dioxide glass created by meteoroids hitting the moon. These impacts, which have been going on for billions of years, fuse topsoil into glass and shatter the same into tiny pieces. Moondust is also rich in iron, calcium and magnesium bound up in minerals such as olivine and pyroxene.
How does it react with landers, rovers and habitats? What surprises await? NASA plans to send people back to the moon in , and they'll stay much longer than Apollo astronauts did. The next generation will have more time and better tools to tackle the mystery. Author: Dr. Tony Phillips Production Editor: Dr. Note: As the story explains, moondust is nothing like modern smokeless gunpowder.
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Moondust contains almost none of these ingredients. For example, "the maximum amount of sulfur in moondust we've studied is only 0. Jan 30, On the Cusp of Understanding. Earth Day Poster.
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November 19, The International Asteroid Hunt. June 30, August 27, Ask a Question. The author would like to thank Eric Jones who penned the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal, a must-read for historians of the Apollo program.
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Many of the radio transmissions and recollections reported in this story come from the Journal. Science writer Trudy Bell for her work on an earlier version of this story. Oxidation is similar to burning but produces no smoke or flames—though it may account for the smell. Interestingly, moon dust that has made the journey back to Earth has no smell.
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While the dust is soft like snow, it is also abrasive with jagged edges. These edges were sharp enough to damage the seals on the containers used to collect it. This meant that the samples were exposed to moist, oxygen-rich air long before they arrived on Earth, so any smells or reactions that may have been observed had already occurred.