back to article Shocking news on lunar surface

Scientists have discovered that the surface of the moon can accumulate a huge charge of static electricity - up to 4,500 V has been detected so far. The scientists, writing in Geophysics Research Letters number 34, say that their findings could have significant implications for those planning to colonise the rocky globe. While …


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  1. Emo

    Dangers of Static Electricity

    Where is the research showing the dangers of static induced hair-do's on moonwalkers?

    PS If and when space balloons get invented, will the moon be coned off incase a balloon gets stuck to it due to the static?

  2. Sam Penny


    I've been zapped with 5,500V before (apparently the cables I was using for my A-level experiment weren't certified for more than 440V - my teacher told me *after* letting me use them!)

    It smarts somewhat, but it didn't do me any lasting damage :)

    Cheers & God bless

    Sam "SammyTheSnake" Penny

  3. Tony

    Solar Storm Warning

    From the story:

    "With no atmosphere, the lunar surface would be a very dangerous place during either a solar storm or a sweep through the magnetotail.

    The latter can be predicted and planned for, but astronauts would rely on their instruments, vulnerable to the effects of the static build up, to warn of a coming solar storm."

    Could they not rely on warnings from earth-based sensors for potential solar storms?

    There is that pesky 1.2903225806 second (roughly) delay for earth-to-moon communication though.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Static makes dust, dust kills seals, air leaks, you die

    Static charges of 5kV are fairly common in households in dry climates (RH < 10%). The electronics will already have a front end to deal with it if it's been sent into space. The hassle is with the dust. Thye static will levitate the dust and disperse it very effectively. The dust will get into everything and chew out seals, fill up gaps, and generally make trouble. That will be more of a problem that a few kV with a huge source impedance.

    Note to Sam Penny:- the kV is not as big an issue as the source impedance. A few kV in a static charge may make you jump ... but even 250 volts with a power line pushing the issue will stand a good chance of killing you. If you must use your body as a conduit for raw electrons, do so sparingly. High doses for any length of time interfere with biological tissue in a destructive and non-repairable way.

    Tony (Sydney, Australia)

  5. Dai Kiwi

    Magnetic shielding

    There's an interesting article in the Jan/Feb issue of Analog SF magazine ['Shielding a Polar Lunar Base' by Franklin Cocks] about using high temperature superconducting wire to create a magnetic shield to protect against solar charged particles.

    The author reckons a 20km diameter loop would provide a 100m wide protected zone around the circumference, requiring 10kJ & 300 amps of energy.

  6. Mike Hebel

    An odd idea...

    Couldn't this energy be harnessed in some way?

    It may only be a lowly 4,500V but I'm betting there's a way to make a collector to at least charge batteries over time.

    Just a thought...

  7. Steve Roper

    Re: An odd idea...

    Interesting idea Mike, but wouldn't it be more effective simply setting up solar panels on the lunar surface rather than trying to collect a (relatively) small static charge over a wide area? I'm no rocket scientist, but it seems to me that without Earth's atmosphere weakening the sunlight, solar panels on the moon would get the benefit of the full blast from the Sun - and generate a lot more energy per square metre than trying to collect static. Good thinking though - any lunar colony would have to get its power from somewhere!

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