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 ")

Astronaut Tim Peake Completes Space Marathon
'Joe got out the gravity-simulator harnesses...' - Murray Leinster, 1953.

Aerojet Rocketdyne 'Ion Drive' To Reach The Asteroids? (Update!)
'It has its own ion drive...' - Jack Williamson, 1947.

Is Social Media Saving Space Travel?
'Officially, they were delighted to share their experiences with the public.' - Michael Swanwick

The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module Attached to ISS
'John Endlich and his wife were setting up an airtight tent...' - Raymond Z. Gallun, 1951.

 

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

Turing's Nose - Was That Scent Real Or Artificial?
'Rippling arpeggios of thyme and lavender...'

Xian'er Buddhist Monk Robot
'Getting to his feet he crossed the waiting room to the Padre booth...'

AnBot Security Robot WILL Tase You, Bro
Michael Crichton right again.

Hover Camera - Unfold Drone, Shoot Selfie
'He set his camera to follow him...'

A Baker's Dozen Of Autonomous Car-Related Revolutions
'Old people began to cross the continent in their own cars.'

Would You Date A Robot? 1 in 4 Say 'Yes'!
'My hands touched a great keyboard, whence, perfect through long practice, I could direct lifelike motion.'

Sophia, The Personable Robot From Hanson Robotics.
'The de luxe model... has fifty different facial expressions...'

Swimming, Slithering Snake Robot
John Connor, how do you feel about swimming snakes?

The First 'Drone Cafe' Started By Dutch Students
'It was a smooth ovoid floating a few inches from the floor...'

Astronaut Tim Peake Completes Space Marathon
'Joe got out the gravity-simulator harnesses...'

Aerojet Rocketdyne 'Ion Drive' To Reach The Asteroids? (Update!)
'It has its own ion drive...'

Beatie Wolfe's Album Is A Deck Of NFC Cards
'The greater trumps ready to step right out through those glistening surfaces.'

Is Social Media Saving Space Travel?
'Officially, they were delighted to share their experiences with the public.'

iBubble Scuba Drone Follower
'Hovered behind him like a large tame bee...'

Ironing Robot May Fulfill Russian Science Fiction Dreams
Sometimes, the old inventions are the best.

Organic Photonic Skin Display
'A strip of readout skin on my wrist...'

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.