A reanalysis of the Apollo light scattering observations, and implications for lunar exospheric dust
Conspicuous excess brightness, exceeding that expected from coronal and zodiacal light (CZL), was observed above the lunar horizon in the Apollo 15 coronal photographic sequence acquired immediately after orbital sunset (surface sunrise). This excess brightness systematically faded as the Command Module moved farther into shadow, eventually becoming indistinguishable from the CZL background. These observations have previously been attributed to scattering by ultrafine dust grains (radius ∼0.1 microns) in the lunar exosphere, and used to obtain coarse estimates of dust concentration at several altitudes and an order-of-magnitude estimate of ∼10 -9 g cm -2 for the column mass of dust near the terminator, collectively referred to as model "0". We have reanalyzed the Apollo 15 orbital sunset sequence by incorporating the known sightline geometries in a Mie-scattering simulation code, and then inverting the measured intensities to retrieve exospheric dust concentration as a function of altitude and distance from the terminator. Results are presented in terms of monodisperse (single grain size) dust distributions. For a grain radius of 0.10 microns, our retrieved dust concentration near the terminator (∼0.010 cm -3) is in agreement with model "0" at z=10 km, as is the dust column mass (∼3-6×10 -10 g cm -2), but the present results indicate generally larger dust scale heights, and much lower concentrations near 1 km (<0.08 cm -3 vs. a few times 0.1 cm -3 for model "0"). The concentration of dust at high altitudes ( z>50 km) is virtually unconstrained by the measurements. The dust exosphere extends into shadow a distance somewhere between 100 and 200 km from the terminator, depending on the uncertain contribution of CZL to the total brightness. These refined estimates of the distribution and concentration of exospheric dust above the lunar sunrise terminator should place new and more rigorous constraints on exospheric dust transport models, as well as provide valuable support for upcoming missions such as the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE).