Zybek begins Kickstarter project for synthetic Moon dust

Posted by Sarah Scoles
on Thursday, February 13, 2014

I’m sorry to kill your dreams, but you will never go to the Moon. Here’s a bit of consolation, though: You can mess around with Moon dust. Or at least something that’s a lot like Moon dust. It’s called Lunar Simulant, and the company that makes it — Zybek — specializes in making materials that mimic the surfaces of celestial bodies.

It may seem like a weird business to be in, or a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it. To find out how our rovers and landers will rove and land on unfamiliar soil, scientists have to test them on a substance remarkably similar to that unfamiliar soil. For Mars, parts of Hawaii and Utah will suffice. But the Moon is different — glassier, for one.

And while Zybek is happy to make Lunar Simulant for NASA, they also would like to use the strange substance to promote interest in the Moon and humans getting out there and exploring space. Mike Weinstein, the company’s founder, said, “After showing the process we use to manufacture Lunar Simulant to hundreds of non-science people over the years, we consistently got comments like, ‘That’s so cool. … Can I have some?’ or ‘I never knew there was a difference between the white part of the Moon and the dark part of the Moon.’”

People’s interest in and curiosity about the synthetic Moon dust gave Weistein an idea: Why not make Moon dust — along with some videos and proposed experiments — available to the world? Inspire and engage them and let them get their hands all dirty with dust made in a 35,000° F plasma oven? 

If that sounds like fun to you and/or some kids you know, consider supporting Zybek’s educational Kickstarter project. If they earn their goal amount, they’ll create educational and hobbyist packages, which you can also see on that Web page.

Nearly 60 percent of the U.S. population was born after the last manned Moon mission. Let’s give that majority something to (literally) hold on to. Namely, a fistful of synthetic dust.

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