Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
  Moon News  




Subscribe free to our newsletters via your




















With Moon Dirt In Demand, Geoscientist's Business Is Booming

NASA introduced moon dirt to Dr. Carter when they sent him soil samples brought back to Earth from astronauts on the first Apollo flight. He was able to identify the chemical materials and the mineralogy-, but it was several years later, in 1992, when the space agency contacted him again about making the artificial stuff for its experiments.
by Staff Writers
Dallas TX (SPX) Jan 17, 2008
After 43 years, Dr. James L. Carter has retired from teaching and research at the University of Texas at Dallas, but he is not giving up his other job: making fake moon dirt. The geoscientist has parlayed his arcane specialty as an expert on lunar soil into a full-time business, ETSimulants. The company makes and ships tons of lunar regolith stimulant, or fake moon dirt, to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and other researchers.

Now that NASA is once again planning moon explorations, Dr. Carter's bone-dry, ashy substance is needed for testing the special equipment that will be used on the lunar surface. No other scientist in the world has just the right recipe, and NASA has run out of its original source.

"When you land on the moon, all this dry, dry dust blows into the space craft's engines," he says. "The astronauts' safety rests on this substance being correct. There can be no mechanical failures once you're parked on the moon's surface."

To recognize the popular geoscientist and his years of mentoring graduate students, the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics has established a scholarship in his honor. The James L. Carter Scholarship is for graduate and undergraduate students pursuing degrees in geosciences. An anonymous donor has agreed to match the donations as well.

His former students remember him fondly, especially his field trips.

"Everything intrigued him whether it was rock, mineral, fossil, plant or just the scenery," said Mary E. Cast, former graduate student and now a quality assurance chemist with the U.S. Geological Survey. "His mind was always going, and to keep pace, you had to engage your mind as well. Nothing was too mundane to catch his attention."

Moon dirt has not been Dr. Carter's only area of research. Throughout his career he has studied everything from the earth's upper crust to environmental geochemistry to paleontology. He made a name for himself when he helped to discover the fossil remains of a sauropod dinosaur in the Big Bend National Park.

NASA introduced moon dirt to Dr. Carter when they sent him soil samples brought back to Earth from astronauts on the first Apollo flight. He was able to identify the chemical materials and the mineralogy-, but it was several years later, in 1992, when the space agency contacted him again about making the artificial stuff for its experiments.

Since starting up his business at a secret location in North Texas - he also won't reveal his manufacturing process - Dr. Carter has made more than 40 tons of the artificial moon dirt. The fake dirt resembles charcoal ash. His rocks come from a volcanic quarry in Arizona. He packs the dirt in large plastic bags, which can hold up to 3,000 pounds and transports these bags on 18-wheeler trucks to Houston.

Dr. Carter says "moon dirt" is a misnomer.

"Technically, the moon doesn't have dirt. There's no water, no oxygen and thus no clay. Everything is in a complete vacuum," he says.

Dr. Carter came to UT Dallas in 1965 as a postdoctoral associate when the University was the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in mining and geological engineering from Texas Western University, now The University of Texas at El Paso, and his Ph.D. in geochemistry from Rice University.

Community
Email This Article
Comment On This Article

Related Links
Mars News and Information at MarsDaily.com
Lunar Dreams and more



Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News


NASA Announces Study Human Lunar Lander Design As Students Line Up For Moonbuggy Races
Washington DC (SPX) Jan 16, 2006
NASA's Constellation Program has released a broad agency announcement for study proposals to evaluate human landing craft concepts for exploring the moon. The Altair spacecraft will deliver four astronauts to the lunar surface late in the next decade. NASA plans to establish an outpost on the moon through a sustainable and affordable series of lunar missions beginning no later than 2020.







  • Environmental Tectonics NASTAR Center Announces Launch Of New Air And Space Adventure Programs
  • NASA inspector general comes under fire
  • ATK To Design And Build Solar Arrays For NASA's Orion CEV
  • SpaceDev Completes Completes Flight Test Plan For Dream Chaser

  • Ice Clouds Put Mars In The Shade
  • Scientists examine effects of wind on Mars
  • 2007 WD5 Mars Collision Effectively Ruled Out As Impact Odds Widen To 1 In 10000
  • Russia claims to be ahead in race to put man on Mars

  • Nuclear Power In Space - Part 2
  • Outside View: Nuclear future in space
  • Nuclear Power In Space

  • Weird Object May Be Result Of Colliding Protoplanets
  • Search For New Planets Part Of Ambitious New Sky Survey
  • Two Unusual Older Stars Giving Birth To Second Wave Of Planets
  • A Young Extrasolar Planet In Its Cosmic Nursery

  • Berkeley Researchers Make Thermoelectric Breakthrough In Silicon Nanowires
  • National Nanotechnology Initiative Releases New Strategic Plan
  • Stanford's Nanowire Battery Holds 10 Times The Charge Of Existing Ones
  • New Property Found In Ancient Mineral Lodestone

  • Spaceflight Shown To Alter Ability Of Bacteria To Cause Disease
  • Cardiovascular System Gets Lazy In Space
  • Creating The Ultimate Artificial Arm
  • A Rocket-Powered Prosthetic Arm

  • Boosting Capability: Santa Maria Station To Join ESTRACK
  • Thuraya-3 Satellite Successfully Launched To Orbit
  • Russia's First Space Launch Of 2008 Scheduled For January 28
  • Sea Launch Begins Countdown For Thuraya-3 Launch

  • Russian Rockets Circa 2008 Part Two
  • Russian rockets Circa 2008 Part One
  • ASRC Aerospace Contributes To NASA Constellation System
  • Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy aims to cut rocket launch costs: company

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2007 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement