Airborne Dust in Space Vehicles and Habitats
Airborne dust, suspended inside a space vehicle or in future celestial habitats, can present a serious threat to crew health if it is not controlled. During some Apollo missions to the moon, lunar dust brought inside the capsule caused eye irritation and breathing difficulty to the crew when they launched from the moon and reacquired “microgravity.” During Shuttle flights reactive and toxic dusts such as lithium hydroxide have created a risk to crew health, and fine particles from combustion events can be especially worrisome. Under nominal spaceflight conditions, airborne dusts and particles tend to be larger than on earth because of the absence of gravity settling. Aboard the ISS, dusts are effectively managed by high efficiency filters, although floating dust in newly-arrived modules can be a nuisance.