2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 8:45 AM

Electrostatic Charging of Lunar Dust by UV Photoelectric Emissions and Solar Wind Electrons

ABBAS, Mian M., VP62, NSSTC/Marshall Space Flight Center, 320 Sparkman Dr, Huntsville, AL 35805, TANKOSIC, Dragana, USRA/NSSTC, UAH, 320 Sparkman Dr, Huntsville, AL 35805, SPANN, James F., VP60, NASA-MSFC, 320 Sparkman Dr, Huntsville, AL 35805, LECLAIR, Andre C., ER43, MSFC-NASA, Huntsville, AL 35812 and DUBE, Michael J., NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, Mian.M.Abbas@nasa.gov

The ubiquitous presence of dust in the lunar environment with its high adhesive characteristics has been recognized to be a major safety issue that must be addressed in view of its hazardous effects on robotic and human exploration of the Moon. The reported observations of a horizon glow and streamers at the lunar terminator during the Apollo missions are attributed to the sunlight scattered by the levitated lunar dust. The lunar surface and the dust grains are predominantly charged positively by the incident UV solar radiation on the dayside and negatively by the solar wind electrons on the night-side. The charged dust grains are levitated and transported over long distances by the established electric fields. A quantitative understanding of the lunar dust phenomena requires development of global dust distribution models, based on an accurate knowledge of lunar dust charging properties. Currently available data of lunar dust charging is based on bulk materials, although it is well recognized that measurements on individual dust grains are expected to be substantially different from the bulk measurements.

In this paper we present laboratory measurements of charging properties of Apollo 11 & 17 dust grains by UV photoelectric emissions and by electron impact. These measurements indicate substantial differences of both qualitative and quantitative nature between dust charging properties of individual micron/submicron sized dust grains and of bulk materials. In addition, there are no viable theoretical models available as yet for calculation of dust charging properties of individual dust grains for both photoelectric emissions and electron impact. It is thus of paramount importance to conduct comprehensive measurements for charging properties of individual dust grains in order to develop realistic models of dust processes in the lunar atmosphere, and address the hazardous issues of dust on lunar robotic and human missions.