Rock star Brian May has criticised Nasa over plans to make mice breathe toxic moondust. The Queen guitarist slammed their plans to test whether the rock particles cause lung damage as cruel and the torture of animals.
Spacesuits keep out the dust when the astronauts are exploring the surface. But the fear is that the microscopic dust could be carried back into their habitation modules where it could get into the air and be inhaled.
The finest particles could cling to the lung tissue causing similar scarring to tobacco smoke and asbestosis.
Brian says in his blog Brian’s Soapbox: “Take precautions, Nasa guys, and design gadgets to keep the dust away. But keep your rotten hands off the mice. It’s unnecessary, cruel, and morally not justifiable.
“The only way you will TRULY know if this stuff hurts human beings is to try it on human beings. Find some humans who will volunteer. Or volunteer yourselves, goddam it . . . if you care. No small non-speaking mammal is able to give consent. You do not have the right to cause them suffering.”
Brian, a keen campaigner on animal rights as well as an astronomy author, adds: “Let’s quit this business of thinking we are the only species on Earth that matters. Let’s STOP the torture of animals.”
Brian is an expert on space dust. He was researching its distribution in the solar system for a PhD when he quit to find stardom with Queen in the Seventies.
The last man to walk on the Moon, Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt, complained of “lunar dust hay fever” when dust on his spacesuit got into the lunar module. The tests will be carried out by Nasa’s Lunar Airborne Dust Toxicity Advisory Group.
The picture shows Brian with Sir Patrick Moore for a special 50th anniversary edition of The Sky At Night this weekend. Just wait to see the picture I’ll show you tomorrow! Photo: BBC.
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