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I read that "Moon Dust" is ranked by NASA as the number one challenge to building a permanent lunar base. Wouldn't it be possible, though, to send some type of lunar excavators to clear a large zone of all lunar dust before sending any other equipment? Since there's no wind on the moon, there's no way for the dust to move on its own once it's settled. Is the layer of dust too thick (all over the moon) for this to be practical?

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    $\begingroup$ +1 excellent question!! Lunar roomba (Lunba) $\endgroup$ – uhoh Apr 4 at 15:14
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    $\begingroup$ There's no air to stop it moving. Dust kicked up by impacts elsewhere will ballistically enter the clean zone. $\endgroup$ – JCRM Apr 4 at 15:16
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    $\begingroup$ This is the equivalent of clearing topsoil on Earth down to bedrock. In some places it might be a few feet, in others, you may end up digging a crater before you hit bedrock and a crater may not be an optimal building site. The issue is finding the optimal building site which would have minimal regolith to clear and stabilize the surrounding dust so you're not constantly clearing it away. $\endgroup$ – gwally Apr 4 at 18:03
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    $\begingroup$ @Uwe so every thousand years you go out with a broom and sweep it clean again. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Apr 5 at 0:23
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    $\begingroup$ "Here's a broom, kid. Knock yourself out." $\endgroup$ – Ingolifs Apr 5 at 3:25
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Clearing away all the dust is more difficult than it sounds.

  1. It's not a neat dust layer on a solid floor, particles of all sizes are mixed with each other. There are lots of nooks and crannies you can't reach with a brush.

  2. the dust carries an electrostatic charge, making it difficult to handle (it sticks to everything including your cleaning implement).

  3. Meteorite impacts spread new dust around, so your work is never done.

  4. There may be another dust transport mechanism: small dust can levitate and come down somewhere else.

Dust mitigation is an area of research for NASA. One possible solution is to use a microwave generator to melt the dust into a hard layer.

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