Lunar Dust Fountains Due To Electrostatic Charges

A great article on NASA's website points out how science fiction author Hal Clement predicted in a 1956 short story that electrostatically charged lunar dust particles might actually suspend themselves above the surface:

"…The [Moon's] surface material is one of the lousiest imaginable electrical conductors, so the dust normally on the surface picks up and keeps a charge. And what, dear student, happens to particles carrying like electrical charges?"

"They are repelled from each other." (From Dust Rag, Astounding Science Fiction, 1956)


(Hal Clement's Astounding 1956 prediction)

Early Surveyor spacecraft (before the Apollo missions) did show a "twilight glow" on the airless moon. Apollo 17 astronauts repeatedly saw bands and streamers just before lunar sunrise or sunset.

As a result of this effect, "the Moon seems to have a tenuous atmosphere of moving dust particles."

I don't think I ever read the Clement story about the electrostatic charging of lunar dust. However, I do remember reading about the thermal insulating properties that a small pool of lunar dust might have in Arthur C. Clarke's excellent 1955 novel Earthlight. In the novel, several men go for a drive on the Moon, and get stuck in an uncharted lunar "dust bowl":

"...the tractor's nose disappeared in a great cloud of dust. The whole vehicle tilted forward... they seemed to be going under in swirling clouds of spray.

...They jolted their way forward in agonizingly slow surges, then Jamieson cut the engine completely.

"Why did you do that?" Wheeler asked anxiously. "We seemed to be getting some where."

"Yes, but we're also getting too hot. This dust is an almost perfect heat insulator...

Read the excellent article on Lunar Dust Fountains on NASA's website. (Thanks again to Winchell Chung for the tip on another cool story.)

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/31/2005)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 6 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

Artificial Gravity? Why Not?
'The artificial gravity-controls in the base of the ship... were being tampered with!' - Ray Cummings

NASA Misses $5Trillion Funding Boost
'This must be a golden planet—this little asteroid.' - Garrett P. Serviss, 1898.

LightSail Solar Sail Deploys
'This was the first time any solar yacht had ever attained it...'- Arthur C. Clarke, 1964.

Suit Up! Fifty Years Of Spacewalks Video
'I experienced for a few minutes the delicious, indescribable pleasure of being a little planet...'- Garrett P. Serviss, 1898.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Organoids Galore!
'Runciter's body contained a dozen artiforgs...'

Artificial Gravity? Why Not?
'The artificial gravity-controls in the base of the ship... were being tampered with!'

Hackers Can Take Control Of Cars From Anywhere In The World
'The car faltered as the external command came to brake...'

Armed Drone Opens Fire
'Each a television eye and a sonic stunner...'

Robotic Exoskeleton Releases Man From Wheelchair
'This man was standing on two corrugated-soled titanium footplates...'

Oh, Just Let Robots Run Airports
I'd like a friendly robot to help me at airports.

How Smart Should AI's Be Allowed To Get?
'Every AI ever built has an electromagnetic shotgun wired to its forehead'

NASA Misses $5Trillion Funding Boost
'This must be a golden planet—this little asteroid.'

Kuwait Creates Mandatory DNA Database For Citizens
And who has the largest DNA database on its citizens?

Please, Please Let There Be Regenerated Teeth
'Toothbud transplants...'

Google AI 'Deep Dreams' Kubrick's 2001
'I was only trying to do what I thought best....'

The BLITAB: First Tactile Tablet for Blind People
Absolutely amazing development - now blind people can read the web!

Why, Oh Why, Must We Develop Robots That Run Faster Than I Do?
'The legs are long, curled way up to deliver power, like a cheetah's.'

Golf Robot Putts Out
'The robot solemnly hit a ball against the wall, picked it up and teed it, hit it again, over and again...'

Computer Finds Cancer Doctors Miss
The computer will see you now.

Would Robot Taxis Ease Carbon Emissions?
'He emerged and flagged down a robot taxi...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.