Horizon-Glow and the Motion of Lunar Dust

  • David R. Criswell
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 37)


Surveyor-7 photographed a bright glow along the western lunar horizon one hour after local sunset. This horizon-glow (HG) must result from the forward scattering of sunlight by electrically charged dust grains [a (grain radius) = 5 × 10−4 cm] which are electrostatically levitated 3 to 30 cm above rocks or surface irregularities located in the lunar terminator zone. The levitation condition is E(V cm−1) ≥ 270 × [a(µ)]1/2.Column densities the order of 50 grains cm−2 are produced. The electrostatic field is generated in the following manner. High energy (500–1500 eV) photoelectrons are ejected from directly illuminated surfaces in the terminator zone. A positive monopole charge is produced which forces the return of subsequently ejected photoelectrons to the vicinity of the illuminated surface. Computer modeling indicates that 1% to 5% of the returned flux will accrete on adjacent completely dark areas. A stable, multipole charge distribution is generated between the light and dark areas. The associated intense multipole electric field (E ≳ 103 V cm−1) can levitate micron size soil grains located in the charged regions. Approximately 10−2 gr cm−2 yr−1 of surface material are ‘churned’ by this process. The photoelectron work function of the lunar material, flux level of solar X-rays (λ ~ 25 Å), and the attenuation of solar ultraviolet photons by multiple scattering (as controlled by local surface geometry and reflectivity) are the physically significant factors.


Solar Wind Solar Disk Lunar Surface Bistatic Radar Lunar Material 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • David R. Criswell
    • 1
  1. 1.Lunar Science InstituteHoustonUSA

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