Optical scattering processes observed at the Moon: Predictions for the LADEE Ultraviolet Spectrometer
The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft will orbit the Moon at an altitude of ≈50 km with a payload that includes the Ultraviolet Spectrometer (UVS) instrument, which will obtain high spectral resolution measurements at near-ultraviolet and visible wavelengths (≈231-826 nm). When LADEE/UVS observes the lunar limb from within the shadow of the Moon it is anticipated that it will detect a lunar horizon glow (LHG) due to sunlight scattered from submicron exospheric dust, as well as emission lines from exospheric gases (particularly sodium), in the presence of the bright coronal and zodiacal light (CZL) background. A modularized code has been developed at NMSU for simulations of scattered light sources as observed by orbiting instruments in lunar shadow. Predictions for the LADEE UVS and star tracker cameras indicate that LHG, sodium (Na) emission lines, and CZL can be distinguished based on spatial morphology and spectral characteristics, with LHG dominant at blue wavelengths (∼250-450 nm) and small tangent heights. If present, LHG should be readily detected by LADEE/UVS and distinguishable from other sources of optical scattering. Observations from UVS and the other instruments aboard LADEE will significantly advance our understanding of how the Moon interacts with the surrounding space environment; these new insights will be applicable to the many other airless bodies in the solar system.
Planetary and Space Science
- Pub Date:
- April 2010