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DUST! You know, that fine gray film that lines your bookshelves, or hugs the corners of your floors. It’s one of those items on the cleaning list that needs to be done, but it is not that important unless you are entertaining or mom is coming over. But there are a few items that we can’t just brush under the rug. For example. . .
If and when we decide to return to the Moon, the problem of dust will become a priority for survival. Because there is no wind on the moon, the dust particle never erodes. Moondust is made up of micrometeorite impacts–and they remain razor-sharp. This makes moondust dangerous to breathe in. Moondust closely resembles silica dust we have here on Earth. Silica dust can cause silicosis, a serious lung disease that can cause death.
The Apollo Astronauts could not completely dust themselves off before entering their capsule, and once back in their capsule the dust became a problem because it spread and attached itself to the electronic equipment and caused interruptions. Astronauts also complained of eye and throat irritations. To date, no one has come up with a solution on how to remove the moon dust before entering the capsule or once in how to keep it from spreading around the living space.
Because of the iron ore in meteorites, they are also susceptible to magnets. China’s Yutu rover died in 2014 by overheating–Moondust was the prime suspect. Lunar dust measures just 70 micrometers. That is about the size of a grain of earth sand, except earth sand is not razor sharp. Moondust also carries an electrical charge–not great for electronic equipment. Dust and dust storms will be another issue once we reach Mars too!
Here on Earth, dust storms like the haboob that hits parts of Arizona or other parts of the world like North Africa are massive and can cause health problems. Cars can choke with earth’s dust storms, air conditioning units and filtration units are on max during these types of storms. Is there a solution? Will solving the moon’s dust problem help here on Earth as well as when we travel to Mars?
My concern is that our present educational system is not preparing the next generation to answer these questions. Even though I admire this entrepreneurial generation, they are locked into developing business solutions and commerce. The Z-Gen, as they are called, like transparency, they like to support causes and are the most advanced generation in using technology. Even though business apps make money and sell products and services, App programs are not designed to move mankind forward to solving the problems that both affect the future of our planet and its inhabitants.
The Academy of Leonardo’s Apprentice was formed to answer a simple question. Is anyone out there interested in science and engineering? It was the same question I asked back in 1994 when I launched a program online called, “Space Islands.” To my surprise, by 1996, the program had reached 2.3 million students and teachers in forty nations. So, here it is twenty-five years later, and I am asking the same question. Except, instead of presenting a program online we are creating and developing an online platform where secondary students in the global community will be able to interact and work on solving some of these questions. This is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to inspiring, motivating, and engaging those students looking for a workspace they can advance their ideas in. No other hidden agenda.
I want to see that entrepreneurial energy released on solving problems that will first address our planet and then how those same solutions might be altered or advanced in moving out of our planet. We are putting together a unique team with a diversity of professional backgrounds who will work towards the development of programs that will be recorded and released for both students and teachers. Joining our team, we will have members who have worked as Disney Imagineers as well as from JPL/NASA. This will allow students to interact with professionals who will provide encouragement and mentoring.
If you know secondary students who are looking for this type of platform to engage in have them register for our Leonardo’s Apprentice Contest Project. This is a 501(c) nonprofit educational organization that is also looking for those individuals or organizations that will help us to grow and reach out through your financial support. Your support will not only give valuable resources for students to work in, but will also provide the educational community with projects and lessons to draw from. All these programs will be focusing on student-directed project-based learning. Here, it starts with the student asking the question.
Our mission is to grow and sustain a global community whose members collectively will build interest and expertise in the fields of engineering, sciences, and the Arts in the spirit of Leonardo da Vinci.
Our Vision is to provide an online platform that will connect, engage, and motivate young minds within the global community in the fields of engineering and science, as we continue to search for tomorrow’s visionaries.