A Dynamic Fountain Model for Lunar DustDuring the Apollo era of exploration it was discovered that sunlight was scattered at the terminators giving rise to horizon glow and streamers above the lunar surface. This was observed from the dark side of the Moon during sunset and sunrise by both surface landers and astronauts in orbit. These observations were quite unexpected, as the Moon was thought to be a pristine environment with a negligible atmosphere or exosphere. Subsequent investigations have shown that the sunlight was most likely scattered by electrostatically charged dust grains originating from the surface. It has since been demonstrated that this dust population could have serious implications for astronomical observations from the lunar surface. The lunar surface is electrostatically charged by the Moon s large-scale interaction with the local plasma environment and the photoemission of electrons due to solar ultra-violet (UV) light and X-rays. The like-charged surface and dust grains then act to repel each other, such that under certain conditions the dust grains are lifted above the surface. We present a dynamic fountain model which can explain how sub-micron dust is able to reach altitudes of up to approximately 100 km above the lunar surface. Previous static dust levitation models are most applicable to the heavier micron-sized grains in close proximity proximity to the surface, but they cannot explain the presence of extremely light grains at high altitudes. If we relax the static constraint applied to previous models, and instead assume that the grains are in constant motion (under the action of dynamic forces), a new picture emerges for the behavior of sub-micron lunar dust.
Stubbs, T. J. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Vondrak, R. R. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Farrell, W. M. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
September 7, 2013
January 1, 2005
Publication: Lunar and Planetary Science XXXVI, Part 18