Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Radiation on the moon?

  1. Mar 16, 2014 #1
    This article mentions moon dust as "subjected to a millenia of UV radiation" as if it's a bad thing. UV would simply irradiate the dust, not make it more hazardous correct?

    Perhaps they meant "a millenia of cosmic radiation" which would be much more problematic, no?

    If this line of questioning seems pedantic, it's because I'm trying to suss out some details for some fiction writing. Any input would be helpful, specifically, what are some of the hazards of moon material coming to Earth's surface?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 16, 2014 #2


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Not really.

    I'd be inclined to blame that meaningless-in-context comment about radiation on uninformed copy-editing.
  4. Mar 16, 2014 #3
    I assumed as much. Ugh, my favorite kind of journalism...

    So is lunar dust particularly radioactive at all?
  5. Mar 16, 2014 #4

    D H

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Ugh. That's one bad popsci headline.

    The issue isn't that UV radiation and the solar wind make the dust radioactive. That's nonsense. The issue is that it alters the surface chemistry and shape of the lunar dust. It turns the already hazardous lunar dust into stuff full of even sharper edges and loaded with free radicals. The lunar dust apparently makes asbestos look downright safe. The general public is clueless with regard to why asbestos is dangerous. They're also clueless about why radiation is dangerous, but they do know that radiation is even scarier than asbestos. Hence the title.

    Here's the scientific article on which this popsci article was based:
    D. Linnarsson et al., Toxicity of lunar dust, Planetary and Space Science 74:1 57-71 (2012)
    arxiv preprint: http://xxx.lanl.gov/abs/1206.6328
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook