Diving into Faculty Scholarship: Dr. Joel S. Levine

Posted on
February 3, 2022

Our faculty at William & Mary are making great contributions to academia with their research. In our recent blog series, we interview faculty with recent publications for insight into their scholarship.

Instruction & Research Librarian Camille Andrews spoke to Dr. Joel S. Levine about his published book, "The Impact of Lunar Dust on Human Exploration." Dust on Earth, whether it’s in your home or in dust storms, can be anything from inconvenient to deadly, but what impact can it have on human explorers in the airless environment of the Moon? Quite a lot, it turns out and it’s especially critical to find out ahead of the planned U. S. Artemis human missions to the Moon beginning as early as 2024. "The Impact of Lunar Dust on Human Exploration" addresses the issue. Dr. Levine, a 

The front cover to The Impact of Lunar Dust on Human Exploration

research professor in the Department of Applied Science, edited the volume, which includes contributions from four dozen authors (everyone from planetary scientists, engineers, mission planners, medical researchers and physicians from NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), to researchers from universities and industry around the world).

In 2-3 sentences, describe your scholarship to someone unfamiliar with the field: 
When the Apollo 11 astronauts landed on the Moon on July 20, 1969, they made a very important discovery. During their landing on the surface of the Moon, the exhaust gasses released from the Lunar Module landing rockets caused large amounts of surface dust to move into the thin lunar atmosphere, causing obscuration of the lunar surface. Once they landed, they found that the surface of the Moon was covered with several inches of very fine, tiny particles composed of sharp, glassy material. The lunar dust stuck to everything it came in contact with, and, once on the lunar surface, the dust eroded their spacesuits, caused overheating on equipment and instrumentation, compromised seals on their spacesuits and on lunar sample collecting boxes, irritated their eyes and lungs, and generally coated everything very efficiently. On the return to Earth in the Apollo Command Module, lunar dust inadvertently brought aboard floated freely in their cabin causing problems. Now, 50 years later, humans will return to the Moon in the Artemis Program, as early as 2024. This book summarizes what we know about lunar dust, its structure and chemical composition, its impact on human health, and how to reduce/mitigate its effects on future human exploration. 

What was the most exciting/interesting part of this project for you?
The importance of this project to the goal of the United States of America to return humans to the Moon as early as 2024. Giving students at the College of William and Mary an opportunity to participate in the U. S. space program.

Who might be interested in reading this book?
Undergraduate and graduate students, the space science community, the general public interested in space research.

Check out Lunar Dust on Human Exploration from the Swem Library stacks. 

*W&M faculty and staff who wish to be part of this series should complete the form available at: https://guides.libraries.wm.edu/pubpromotion