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What smells like the moon?

29 Oct

I’d like to send you a pinch of lunar dust, “- says Apollo astronaut Gene Dzhernan-17 -” It’s an amazing dust ”
Groping her soft as snow, but at the same time reminds abrasive powder. A bad taste, according to Apollo 16 astronaut John Yanggu. And her smell like the smell of gunpowder, as the Dzhernan.
But how do they smelled it? Very simple. You do not need to sniff the lunar povehnost. Dust okazal unusually clingy and remained not only on the boots and gloves, but on the whole surface of the spacesuit, the astronauts how carefully it is not clear. Dust, and in significant amounts, penetrated into the lander. Taking off his spacesuit, the astronauts chuvstvali that the lunar dust is also here and could feel her taste and smell.
Apollo 17 astronaut Jack Schmitt was the first in the history of a man who suffered an attack of hay fever outside aisles earth’s surface. The attack began quite rapidly – as soon as Jack took off his helmet, after the first walk on the moon, he immediately felt that his nose is stuffed up. On the odd astronaut’s voice drew attention to Hstone when he conveyed the message. It was a reaction to the lunar dust. The same reaction, but to a lesser degree, was with him and after the second and third exit at the moon. It is quite possible that he has acquired a sort of immunity to the lunar dust.
Other astronauts, pilots do not suffer bouts of hay fever, or did not report on them. The fact is that when such symptoms immediately to revoke the pilot to the ground. Jack also was a geologist, so he courageously reported on their feelings. Besides, Jack was a very sensitive nose’s mucous easily irritated by the smell of chemicals in Hstone. Probably because of its sensitive nose Schmitt and felt an lihordki hay, while the other astronauts did not ispytavili this. But the smell feel everything. Apollo 16 pilot Charlie Duke radioed in Hston: “This is a very strong smell, the smell of burnt gunpowder, and even the taste is similar to gunpowder.” Gin Dzherman also noted: “the smell was as if someone had something burned in the cabin, and seems that the gunpowder. ”
In fact, the lunar dust and gunpowder – are two big differences. Modern smokeless gunpowder is a mixture of nitrocellulose and nitroglitsirina and both flammable organic molecules were not detected in the composition of the lunar dust. This is the official conclusion Laboratory NASA. “And if you will hand the match to the lunar dust does not break out” – says Gary Lofren of the Lunar Laboratory Johnson Space Center.
But what is the lunar dust? Almost half of the dust – it is silicon dioxide – glass – formed as a result of heating the surface of the fall of meteorites. Over billions of years, succeeded in fused glass and the collapse of the smallest particles. In the lunar dust contains a lot of iron, calcium and magnesium is in the minerals olivine and called piroksin. And nothing like gunpowder.
Why then does it smell like gunpowder? Nobody knows.
ISS astronaut Don Petitt, who was not on the moon, but has been studying space smells, put forward this suggestion: “Imagine that you are in the desert on Earth. What is the smell you feel? No, until the rain passes. After him, the air suddenly filled with the wonderful smell of freshness. Evaporating water will bring the nose of the molecule, which for months were on dry land. Probably the same happens on the Moon. Moon – a desert with the age of 4 billion years. It is incredibly dry and when the moon dust contact with the air inside the cabin of the lander, is the effect of “the smell of freshness after a rain in the desert.” That’s just the smell of freshness, “Desert Moon” is very similar to the smell of burnt gunpowder. ”
A similar explanation is given and Lunar Laboratory NASA. Moon dust is heated by the solar wind and, unlike the moon, the earth’s surface is exposed to hot wind from the hydrogen, helium and other ions which emits the sun. These ions reach the lunar surface accumulate in the dust. Liaising with the atmosphere of the cabin, these ions can easily rise into the air and people can smell, in this case, people associate it with the smell of gunpowder.
There is another idea. The smell and reaction to it due to the fact that the lunar dust is chemically active. Imagine how formilovalas lunar dust – meteorites constantly bomili lunar surface over billions of years. This process is like a grinding stone with a hammer on the anvil, and so many years. The result could be the formation of active molecules with broken bonds. You breathe in a composition and what happens? The molecules interact with the molecules of the membrane of your nose and find the missing elements. Your nose is stuffed up and you feel a strange smell, a little later, when the molecules restored the loss of this feeling weakened.
Another theory says that the lunar dust may be “burned” in an oxygen atmosphere of the cabin module. Oxygen is an oxidant, and perhaps it interacts with the dust as well as with other substances, that is oxidized, and oxidation, and it is burning. This process can cause the smell of burnt gunpowder. It is not for nothing that all the astronauts said it was the smell of burnt gunpowder, while the ordinary gunpowder smell differently.
It is interesting that the lunar dust on Earth does not smell at all. In Lunar NASA laboratory has dozens killogramm lunar dust and lunar rocks, and they absolutely do not smell like burnt gunpowder. Can astronauts up the whole thing? No. There is a better explanation. Moon dust on Earth, “passivated.” All of the samples which are allowed astronauts have been in contact with air enriched with oxygen so that any chemical reaction can produce odors ended long ago. And although this should not happen, because the samples were delivered to germitichnyh containers. However, for the three-day mission to the Earth, the sharp edges of particles of lunar dust and the broken seal in containers entered the molecule of oxygen and water vapor.
According to Schmitt, the lunar dust must be studied on the moon, and only then will we get answers to all questions: Why does it smell of gunpowder? As it interacts with the materials and man? And what other surprises fraught?
The next landing of men on the moon is expected in 2018. NASA plans to make a longer expedition and equip the astronauts more moschnymi tools for research. As they say, smell the moon, we are just beginning.

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2009 in Galaxy

 

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