Australian scientist captivate Surabaya students with Apollo missions

>> Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The University of Western Australia`s Adjunct Professor Brian O`Brien presented research on Apollo moon expeditions to students at Surabaya`s 10 November Institute of Technology on Tuesday.

According to a media release from the Australian Embassy here on its official website, O`Brien is a space scientist and former NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Principle Investigator for the 1960s Apollo missions project.

The late 1960s Apollo 11, 12, 14 and 15 missions (and the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission) carried Apollo Charged Particle Lunar Environment Experiments (CPLEE) or "moon dust detectors" conceived and designed by Professor O`Brien, for which he was awarded the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement.

These detectors were deployed on the surface of the moon and their information beamed back to Earth and recorded onto tapes.

These data tapes are most likely the only such dust measurements of the Apollo missions of their kind in the world.

Results from Professor O`Brien`s dust detectors may now hold the key to overcoming problems associated with lunar dust for future moon missions.

Professor O`Brien found that moon dust is sticky and its stickiness changes during the course of a lunar day.

Understanding the physics of lunar dust also has important implications for the scientific equipment left on the moon.

"Lunar dust is considered the number one environmental problem on the moon and can cause unexpected difficulties and hazards for both robots and humans operating on the dust-covered lunar surface," said Professor O`Brien.

He also captivated students by showing them life-size models of his dust detectors.These detectors only weighed 270 grams and were about the size of a matchbox.

They contained three small solar cells which gave different voltage readings according to how much dust was present.

Australia`s Charge d`Affaires Paul Robilliard said the visit to Indonesia by O`Brien coincided with 20th Anniversary celebrations of the Western Australia-East Java Sister State relationship, highlights Australia`s strengths in the fields of science and technology and the potential for closer technological


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