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 ")

Students! NASA Wants To 3D Print Your Tool Design In Space!
'Mass-produced only in the orbiting factories...'- Arthur C. Clarke, 1979

Flock Of Minisats Will Image The Earth
'We... dropped roughly a thousand eyes on Beta Hydri IV.'- Robert Silverberg, 1969.

The Manned Maneuvering Unit Story
'Little spurts of red-orange flame from the reaction pistol marked his companion's trail...'- Gordon A. Giles, 1937.

Bigelow's Inflatable BEAM Module Ready For ISS In 2015
'The bubble had inflatable seats and an inflatable table...'- Larry Niven, 1994.

 

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

Physicists Build Repulsor / Tractor Beam
'Brandon swung mighty tractor beams upon the severed halves of the Jovian vessel...'

High Fidelity Produces More Expressive Avatars!
'They are the audiovisual bodies that people use to communicate with each other...'

Will You Upload Your Mind Anytime Soon?
And if so, how long will the copy last?

Students! NASA Wants To 3D Print Your Tool Design In Space!
'Mass-produced only in the orbiting factories...'

Amazing ARES Augmented Reality Sandbox
'First he showed him where the input and output of his brand-new kingdom were, and how to program wars...'

'3D Light Sculpture' Projected Directly Onto Retina
'...projects directly on the retina of the eye…'

3D Printer Vending Machine Dispenses Dreams
'Nanofax AG offers a technology that digitally reproduces objects, physically, at a distance.'

Why Not Nurse Grandma With A Robot?
'She's made of a combination of springs, levers, acoustic instruments...'

Flock Of Minisats Will Image The Earth
'We... dropped roughly a thousand eyes on Beta Hydri IV.'

Should Robots Have Civil Rights?
'I've seen things... you people wouldn't believe...'

Robert Heinlein, Your Self-Driving Car Is Almost Ready!
'Mary Risling settled back for a little nap...'

The Manned Maneuvering Unit Story
'Little spurts of red-orange flame from the reaction pistol marked his companion's trail...'

Scheherazade, An Open Story Generator
'How can you compete with an IBM heavy-duty logomatic analogue?'

Sample The In Vitro Meat Cookbook
'I grabbed two Syntho-Steaks out of the freezer...'

'Diamond Nanothreads' Now, Someday Space Elevators?
'It is a continuous pseudo-one dimensional diamond crystal'

Erased Memories In A Flash Of Light
'Someone, probably at a government military-sciences lab, erased his conscious memories...'

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.