The lunar dust environment: concerns for Moon-based astronomy

Mihály Horányi, Jamey R. Szalay, Xu Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The Moon has no atmosphere, hence, it offers a unique opportunity to place telescopes on its surface for astronomical observations. It is phase-locked with Earth, and its far side remains free from ground-based interference, enabling the optimal use of radio telescopes. However, the surface of the Moon, as any other airless planetary object in the solar system, is continually bombarded by interplanetary dust particles that cause impact damage and generate secondary ejecta particles that continually overturn the top layer of the lunar regolith. In addition, there is evidence, that small particles comprising the lunar regolith can be electrically charged, mobilized and transported, also representing a hazard for covering sensitive surfaces and interfering with exposed mechanical structures. In addition to the naturally occurring dust transport, rocket firings during landings and take-offs, pedestrian and motorized vehicle traffic will also liberate copious amounts of dust, representing a potential hazard for the safe and optimal use of optical platforms. This article is part of a discussion meeting issue 'Astronomy from the Moon: the next decades (part 2)'.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20230075
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2271
StatePublished - May 9 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Mathematics
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


  • dust hazard
  • moon
  • near-surface dusty plasmas


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