‘Mars in a Bottle’ Simulates the Red Planet’s Dangerous Dust

March 30, 2014 7:34 PM

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The most dangerous thing on Mars isn’t a 1-ton laser-wielding robot; it’s dust. And researchers have built a vacuum chamber that can help determine how the probes and, one day, human explorers we send there might fare against the mighty Martian dust.

The schmutz of Mars had long plagued our robotic explorers. This dust, composed mainly of magnetic iron oxides, tends to stick to anything with a slight charge, including motors and electronic devices. It can accumulate on solar panels, coating rovers such as Spirit and Opportunity. Martian soot is ...

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