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10 Ways Space Is Trying to Kill You


5
Space Dust Inhalation
An artist's depiction of the close pass of comet C/2013 A1 over the Martian landscape. The sticky dust on Mars would be tough to keep out of a spacesuit or home. Marc Ward/Stocktrek Images/Getty Images
An artist's depiction of the close pass of comet C/2013 A1 over the Martian landscape. The sticky dust on Mars would be tough to keep out of a spacesuit or home. Marc Ward/Stocktrek Images/Getty Images

Compared to airlessness, huge radiation doses and other hazards, a little dust would seem to be no big deal. NASA already knows from the Apollo program that astronauts suffer from the lunar equivalent of hay fever from dust inhalation [source: Armagh Planetarium].

Explorers who someday visit Mars will have to worry about the superfine dust containing fine-grained silicate materials, which carry static electricity and stick to everything. If astronauts breathe it in, it can react with water in their lungs to create damaging chemicals and cause effects similar to black-lung disease in coal miners. While visitors to Mars will be wearing spacesuits when they're out on the surface, the sticky dust is going to be tough to keep out of their suits and consequently, their habitats [source: Jaggard].


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