The Dust On Mars Would Be Dangerous To Human Visitors

It's going to take more than a Swiffer to deal with this situation. Researchers and public health experts at the Humans 2 Mars Summit (H2M) grappled with the question of how to deal with Martian dust if a manned mission to Mars could actually get off the ground by 2030.

The group raised concerns that the high silicate mineral content of the dust could interact with the water in human lung tissue to produce nasty chemicals and effects. NASA's chief health and medical officer, Richard Williams, also noted that perchlorates, a type of salt, are common in martian dust and can damage the thyroid gland.

Visitors to Mars would not be breathing martian air directly, of course, because its oxygen content is insufficient for humans. Additionally, too much radiation reaches the surface of Mars for astronauts to ever leave their spacesuits or other enclosures. Nonetheless, the dust is a concern because it sticks to suits and could easily get into living spaces and onto basically everything the astronauts would be interacting with. Better send a Roomba ahead. [NewScientist]