ANALYSIS: Warped Imaginations: Star Wars Fans Want a NASA Hyperdrive
From our robotic experience on Mars, dust is also a concern - solar-powered surface missions are especially vulnerable, since red dust buildup on solar arrays severely limits the amount of sunlight that can be converted into power. However, the situation on the moon is far more acute; the electrostatic charge cannot discharge in the atmosphere-less environment. What's more, between day and night on the moon (at the ‘terminator'), electric charge buildup can levitate the dust, causing it to cover everything.
"Both the moon and Mars have dust but the difference is their atmosphere," Honary told Astronomy Now. "The atmosphere on Mars has a mitigation effect since charged dust particles can lose their charge to the neutral molecules that make Mars' atmosphere." Also, as noted by Astronomy Now's Keith Cooper, the greater gravity on Mars limits the height the Mars dust levitates.
So, Honary simulated the moon at day and at night. A model rover was added to the simulation. During full daylight, the levitated dust would drift away from the rover, but at sunrise or sunset, the dust would accumulate right above the rover, covering it. As lunar day and night lasts 14 days, sunrise and sunset happens over an extended period, making this a long-period, dusty problem.