In 1972, Harrison Schmitt became the most recent person to walk on the moon, joining 11 other people who can boast that miraculous feat. But the moon must not have liked being stepped on: as soon as Schmitt took off his helmet inside the moon capsule, his nasal passages swelled and he became congested. The cause was the moon dust that Schmitt and his crewmates were bringing back to Earth, either by accident or on purpose. The soil samples they collected included one that NASA called “the most interesting sample” ever reported. Fortunately for Schmitt, the congestion passed quickly. “The first time I smelled the dust I had an allergic reaction, the inside of my nose swelled, you could hear it in my voice. But that gradually went away for me, and the fourth time I inhaled the moon dust I didn’t notice. However, Schmitt says the reaction made it clear that we need to gain a better understanding of how humanity reacts to places like the moon, if only to ensure a safe return. Currently, NASA plans to send humans back to the moon, including a woman for the first time, by 2024.

More information on moon dust:

Silicon dioxide is the main component of moon dust, which also contains iron, magnesium and calcium.
The astronauts have tasted moon dust and say it smells and tastes like gunpowder.
Lunar dust lies on the lunar surface, but it also floats above it for nearly 60 miles (96.5 km).

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