Lunar and Planetary Institute

Apollo 14 Mission

Science Experiments - Lunar Dust Detector

Prior to the Apollo landings, it was thought that there would be a heavy dust layer deposited on the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP) during lunar module ascent and possibly from other long-term sources. This experiment was designed to measure this dust layer deposition and was performed on Apollo 11, 12, 14, and 15. It was housed in the ALSEP central station and measured the power output from a set of solar cells. The dust accumulation proved to be much lower than expected, and the results from this experiment were also used to monitor the long-term degradation of solar cells from radiation and thermal effects. This was considered to be an engineering rather than a scientific experiment.

On Apollo 14, another engineering test related to lunar dust, the Thermal Degradation Sample, was performed. This involved a small array of materials being considered as possible thermal coatings for future missions. This array deliberately had lunar dust scooped onto it and then brushed off. The array was photographed in its pristine state, with dust on it, and after the dust was brushed off. The array was then folded up for return to Earth, where the various materials were examined to determine how they were affected by the lunar dust.

Lunar Dust Detector Experiment Results (NSSDC)

Additional Lunar Dust Detector Details (JSC)

Additional Thermal Degradation Sample Details (JSC)