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The Lunar Atmosphere: History, Status, Current Problems, and ContextAfter decades of speculation and fruitless searches, the lunar atmosphere was first observed by Apollo surface and orbital instruments between 1970 and 1972. With the demise of Apollo in 1972, and the termination of funding for Apollo lunar ground station studies in 1977, the field withered for many years, but has recently enjoyed a renaissance. This reflowering has been driven by the discovery and exploration of sodium and potassium in the lunar exosphere by groundbased observers, the detection of metal ions derived from the Moon in interplanetary space, the possible discoveries of H2O ice at the poles of the Moon and Mercury, and the detections of tenuous atmospheres around more remote sites in the solar system, including Mercury and the Galilean satellites. In this review we summarize the present state of knowledge about the lunar atmosphere, describe the important physical processes taking place within it, and then discuss related topics including a comparison of the lunar atmosphere to other surface boundary exospheres in the solar system.
Document ID
Document Type
Preprint (Draft being sent to journal)
Stern, S. Alan . (Southwest Research Inst. Boulder, CO United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1997
Subject Category
Lunar and Planetary Exploration
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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