The Artemis mission marks NASA’s phenomenal return to lunar exploration after over five decades and signifies a substantial leap in bleeding-edge technology fueling space exploration.

On the verge of achieving the extraordinary milestone of landing the first woman and first person of color on the moon, the agency faces a seemingly mundane yet formidable adversary: lunar dust.

Contrary to its unassuming name, lunar dust poses substantial risks to both astronauts and the mission's equipment on the lunar surface. Composed of crushed rock, this fine, abrasive dust can wreak havoc on lunar landers, endanger the respiratory health of astronauts if inhaled, and interfere with vital instruments.

Lunar dust's detrimental effects can cause radiators to overheat and potentially destroy spacesuits. These issues are further compounded by the dust’s affinity to carry solar radiation on the sun-facing side of the Moon and cling on to everything.

NASA took a proactive step to tackle this challenge by establishing the Lunar Surface Innovation Initiative (LSII) in 2019. LSII aims to stimulate interest and innovation in lunar exploration technologies, and actively focuses on lunar dust— an investment for the benefit of future generations of space travel.

Previous research explored active solutions such as liquid nitrogen sprays to remove lunar dust off space suits, and other passive methods including engineered surfaces resistant to the dust.

Arif Rahman, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor at Hawai’i Pacific University believes to have found an answer to NASA’s dusty predicament.

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