Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How the Moon gets its exosphere

Date:
January 2, 2010
Source:
American Geophysical Union
Summary:
Several decades ago scientists discovered that the Moon, long thought to have no atmosphere, actually does have an extremely thin exosphere. Scientists generally believe that the ions that make up the lunar exosphere are generated at the Moon's surface by interaction with solar photons, plasma in the Earth's magnetosphere, or micrometeorites. However, scientists have been uncertain about which processes are the main contributors of lunar exosphere ions.

Long thought to have no atmosphere, the Moon actually does have an extremely thin exosphere.
Credit: iStockphoto/Rafael Pacheco

Several decades ago scientists discovered that the Moon, long thought to have no atmosphere, actually does have an extremely thin exosphere. Scientists generally believe that the ions that make up the lunar exosphere are generated at the Moon's surface by interaction with solar photons, plasma in the Earth's magnetosphere, or micrometeorites. However, scientists have been uncertain about which processes are the main contributors of lunar exosphere ions.

Using instruments aboard the Japanese lunar orbiter SELENE (also known as Kaguya), Tanaka et al. made the first spacecraft-based observations of the lunar exosphere when the Moon was inside Earth's magnetosphere. They detected ions of several elements at 100-kilometer (62-mile) altitude above the lunar surface.

Previous studies have detected Moon-originating ions when the Moon was in the solar wind; this new study is the first to detect such ions when the Moon was not affected by solar wind particles or the Earth's magnetotail plasma.

The results, which provide new evidence about the origin of the lunar exosphere, are consistent with the idea that solar photon-driven processes dominate in supplying exosphere components.

The research is published in Geophysical Research Letters. Authors include Takaaki Tanaka, Yoshifumi Saito, Shoichiro Yokota, Kazushi Asamura, Masaki N. Nishino, Hideo Tsunakawa, Masaki Matsushima, and Futoshi Takahashi: Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo, Japan; Hidetoshi Shibuya: Department of Earth Science, Kumamoto University, Kumamoto, Japan Hisayoshi Shimizu: Earthquake Research Institute, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan; Masaki Fujimoto and Toshifumi Mukai: Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, Japan; Aerospace Exploration Agency, Sagamihara, Japan; and Toshio Terasawa: Department of Physics, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo, Japan.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Geophysical Union. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Tanaka et al. First in situ observation of the Moon-originating ions in the Earth's Magnetosphere by MAP-PACE on SELENE (KAGUYA). Geophysical Research Letters, 2009; 36 (22): L22106 DOI: 10.1029/2009GL040682

Cite This Page:

American Geophysical Union. "How the Moon gets its exosphere." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091230183710.htm>.
American Geophysical Union. (2010, January 2). How the Moon gets its exosphere. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091230183710.htm
American Geophysical Union. "How the Moon gets its exosphere." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091230183710.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nuclear-Level Asteroids Might Be More Common Than We Realize

Nuclear-Level Asteroids Might Be More Common Than We Realize

Newsy (Apr. 23, 2014) The B612 Foundation says asteroids strike Earth much more often than previously thought, and are hoping to build an early warning system. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Chief Outlines Plan for Human Mission to Mars

NASA Chief Outlines Plan for Human Mission to Mars

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) NASA administrator Charles Bolden, speaking at the 'Human to Mars Summit' in Washington, says that learning more about the Red Planet can help answer the 'fundamental question' of 'life beyond Earth'. Duration: 00:48 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nasa Gives You An Excuse to Post a Selfie on Earth Day

Nasa Gives You An Excuse to Post a Selfie on Earth Day

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) NASA is inviting all social media users to take a selfie of themselves alongside nature and to post it to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, or Google Plus with the hashtag #globalselfie. NASA's goal is to crowd-source a collection of snapshots of the earth, ground-up, that will be used to create one "unique mosaic of the Blue Marble." This image will be available to all in May. Since this is probably one of the few times posting a selfie to Twitter won't be embarrassing, we suggest you give it a go for a good cause. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
SpaceX's Dragon Spacecraft Captured by International Space Station

SpaceX's Dragon Spacecraft Captured by International Space Station

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 20, 2014) SpaceX's unmanned Dragon spacecraft makes a scheduled Easter Sunday rendezvous with the International Space Station. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins