The first thing they noticed about the dust was that it went airborne right away, and that it smelled like gunpowder. Before too long, the astronauts couldn't help but breathe in the stuff, and Schmitt later complained of congestion and a kind of "lunar hay fever." Fortunately, that little bit of dust was just enough to give him the moon sniffles and not much else, and Schmitt felt fine the next day.
Lunar hay fever. It's a wonder there isn't a Tom Hanks movie about this guy.
What we've learned since then, however, doesn't bode well for future moon travelers. Scientists later found out that moondust has properties similar to those of freshly fractured quartz, or silica, and that stuff is lethal to human lungs. On Earth, it affects people working in quarries or mines, and about 16,000 people died of silicosis between 1968 and 2002.
And don't get us started on Mars dust. The dirt on the Red Planet is so dangerous that NASA calls it the No. 1 risk of a manned expedition to Mars. It's corrosive and gritty and doesn't just sit there like moondust; it whips itself into dust devils, slapping everything in sight like an angry space pimp. Scientists don't even know whether the stuff is toxic yet. Future astronauts are going to have to be part spacemen and part housekeepers, because they're going to have to keep their space houses fastidiously clean to stay alive up there.
We can't afford more of Schmitt's Three Stooges shenanigans.
#5. Space Junk
The last thing you'd expect when you go to space is an orbiting junkyard. But we've got one, in all its Sanford and Son glory, just hurtling itself around Earth waiting to clobber the big dummies who were stupid enough to put it up there in the first place.
Let's see dolphins make a mess this impressive.
Usually when we succeed at launching something into space, we also succeed at leaving something in space. Sometimes it's just a bolt, or a fleck of paint. Other times it's an entire spacecraft that's no longer functioning, like the satellite Vanguard I (that bad boy has been orbiting the planet for 50 years, and it's probably going to go 240 more before it re-enters Earth's atmosphere). There are spent rocket stages, defunct satellites, explosion fragments and even needles up there, reminding us that we are not only not very good at space, but also supergood at litterbugging.