Thursday, January 21, 2010

Video: 'Acoustic Levitation' Scientists Use Sound To Make Objects Levitate

Stereo Speakers Can Levitate Dust for Mars Colonists
     Using the vibration from a stereo speaker to levitate dust off surfaces may one day help keep colonies up and running on Mars and the Moon.

Blasting a high-pitched noise from a tweeter into a pipe that focuses the sound waves can create enough pressure to lift troublesome alien dust from equipment, suits or vehicles, according to a study published January in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.

Dust is one of the biggest obstacles for long-term lunar and Martian space colonies. On the moon, there’s no atmosphere and no water, so the dust particles don’t get moved around, worn down and rounded like they do on Earth.

Consequently, dust kicked up by rovers and astronauts is “very abrasive and sharp, like freshly broken glass,” said University of Colorado Boulder physicist Zoltan Sternovsky, who was not involved in the study.

Electrostatic charging from solar winds and UV radiation on the moon makes this sharp dust cling to everything, including astronaut suits where it can work its way through the glove air locks. It also sticks to the solar panels that power rovers and other instruments.

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