University of North Dakota Faculty/Staff Newsletter

“Lunar Dust” will be presented April 15 by NASA scientist and UND alumnus

The Spring 2013 Space Studies Colloquium Series will focus on the general theme "Near-Earth Asteroid Mining" and will feature several leading experts in the field.

The final presentation in this series will feature Jon Rask,  Senior Scientist, Space Biosciences Division of NASA Ames Research Center, and a 2001 alumnus of the UND Space Studies master's program.  He will present "Lunar Dust: Problems and Potential For Future Explorers,” at 4 p.m. Monday, April 15, in 111 Ryan Hall.

The fine-grained nature of the lunar surface is both a concern and an opportunity for future lunar surface operations. Our research on lunar dust has focused on the biological concerns that relate to astronaut exposure to lunar dust, as well as the development of regolith biocomposite technology. This presentation will highlight results from recent experimental investigations that have characterized lunar dust skin abrasivity, chemical reactivity, and pulmonary toxicity, and will feature examples of concrete-like materials made of lunar dust simulants.

Jon Rask is a Life Scientist with the Space Biosciences Division of NASA Ames. His current research focuses on human health risks associated with space exploration, and the search for life on Mars. Rask has investigated the toxicity of lunar dust, and developed and tested life science hardware and experiments for Space Shuttle missions and the International Space Station. He has performed experiment operations aboard the NASA C9B parabolic aircraft, and been a test subject in hypergravity experiments aboard the centrifuge facilities at NASA Ames.

He has also been involved in Mars analog research at the Mars Desert Research Station, in the Mojave and Empty Quarter Deserts, in the relic glacial terrains and badlands of North Dakota, in the Arctic on Svalbard, and in Antarctica. Prior to his work at NASA Ames, Jon was a farmer, rancher, and high school science teacher in North Dakota.