The Levitation of Lunar Dust Via Electrostatic Forces

by S. Doe, New Mexico State Univ, Las Cruces, United States,
J. O. Burns, New Mexico State Univ, Las Cruces, United States,
D. Pettit, New Mexico State Univ, Las Cruces, United States,
J. Blacic, New Mexico State Univ, Las Cruces, United States,
P. W. Keaton, New Mexico State Univ, Las Cruces, United States,



Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Space IV

Abstract:

Apollo and Surveyor photographs revealed an unexpected lunar phenomenon that has come to be known as the 'horizon glow'. During lunar sunrise and sunset, a line of light was visible above the horizon. Small dust grains, also charged via photoionization, could be propelled off of the surface. These dust grains could forward scatter sunlight, accounting for the horizon glow. While some numerical simulations have been done, we are unaware of any experimental work performed to test this hypothesis. This paper describes an experiment in which we sought to mimic the conditions thought to give rise to lunar dust levitation. Our results indicate that 10 to 15% of the dust is levitated under these conditions.



Subject Headings: Light (natural) | Grain (material) | Numerical models | Solar radiation | Surveys (non-geomatic) | Field tests | Lunar materials | Photography

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