Scientists explain formation of lunar dust clouds

January 24, 2019

Physicists from the Higher School of Economics and Space Research Institute have identified a mechanism explaining the appearance of two dusty plasma clouds resulting from a meteoroid that impacted the surface of the Moon. The study was published in JETP Letters.

The collision of a meteoroid with the surface of the Moon greatly changes the properties of the surrounding dusty plasma system by throwing a large quantity of lunar soil-regolith debris -- dust particles measuring 10-100 microns -- into the otherwise relatively unsullied exosphere.

In 2015, astronomers at the Garden Observatory in Gordola (Switzerland) observed a similar phenomenon when they recorded an optical flash resulting from a meteoroid impacting the Moon. An international group of scientists using data from astronomical observations concluded that a fairly large and fast-moving meteoroid hadimpacted the Moon, raising two clouds of unknown composition.

Russian researchers from the Higher School of Economics, Space Research Institute (IKI), Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Sternberg Astronomical Institute, and Far Eastern Federal University determined that a meteoroid's collision with the surface of the Moon produces a shock wave that throws up regolith fragments and droplets of molten material into the surrounding free space. Those fragments and hardened molten droplets rise above the surface of the Moon, interact with the electrons in the solar wind and solar radiation and take on an electrical charge. Two dusty plasma clouds form as a result -- one composed of regolith fragments and a second of hardened droplets of molten material. The differing characteristics of the two clouds make it possible to observe them separately.

Scientists have calculated the main characteristics of the clouds -- the speed at which they expand, the size, number density, and electrical charge of the particles in each, and so on. The calculations and observational data matched. It was found that a cloud formed by hardened droplets of molten material expands significantly faster than a cloud formed by regolith fragments.

'Lunar dust is a significant risk factor for spacecraft, equipment, and the astronauts' health,' explained study co-author, HSE Faculty of Physics Professor, and Space Research Institute Laboratory Head Sergey Popel. 'Equipment covered with dust can malfunction. Astronauts carry dust on their spacesuits into the lunar module where it becomes suspended weightlessly in the air, causing them to inhale the particles during their entire return trip to Earth. Therefore, understanding the mechanism by which dusty plasma clouds are formed is important for ensuring the safety of space flights to the Moon.'

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Related Economics Articles from Brightsurf:

A century of misunderstanding of a key tool in the economics of natural resources
In the past few weeks, oil prices have fallen to record lows.

What comes after COVID-19? Special issue in the journal Population and Economics
At this alarming time, when the COVID-19 pandemic is on everyone's mind, a new special issue in the open-access peer-reviewed journal Population and Economics provides a platform for discussion on the impact of the pandemic on the population and economics, both in Russia and worldwide.

Challenges for Russia's agriculture: new special issue in Russian Journal of Economics
While Russia seems to have tackled its historic problem: food shortage -- with the agri-food sector becoming one of the most steadily developing of the national economy in the last decade -- there is a new set of challenges.

Brief entrance test can predict academic success within first year of study in economics
German researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and Humboldt-Universit├Ąt zu Berlin found that even a short test can reliably predict students' success within their first year of study in economics -- much better than an intelligence test or predictions based on school grades.

The case for economics -- by the numbers
In recent years, criticism has been levelled at economics for being insular and unconcerned about real-world problems.

Scientists develop open-source software to analyze economics of biofuels, bioproducts
Perennial grasses can be converted into everything from ethanol to bioplastics, but it's unclear which bioproducts hold the greatest potential.

Life data economics: calling for new models to assess the value of human data
After the collapse of the blockchain bubble a number of research organisations are developing platforms to enable individual ownership of life data and establish the data valuation and pricing models.

SCAI and ACVP release consensus statement on cardiovascular catheterization laboratory economics
A newly released expert consensus statement provides recommendations for optimizing the financial operations of the cardiovascular catheterization laboratory (CCL) while providing cutting-edge patient care.

Shocking economics
Understanding economies in times of crises? Modern macroeconomics failed so far.

When does one of the central ideas in economics work?
Many situations in economics are complicated and competitive; this research raises the question of whether many theories in economics may suffer from the very fundamental problem that the key behavioral assumption of equilibrium is wrong.

Read More: Economics News and Economics Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to