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Electrostatic Dust Analyzer (EDA) for Characterizing Dust Transport on the Lunar Surface

Abstract : Electrostatic dust charging and transport is a five-decade-old problem related to a number of observations on the surfaces of the Moon and other airless bodies, including the lunar horizon glow, the dust ponds on asteroid Eros and comet 67P, and the radial spokes in Saturn's rings. Recent laboratory studies have made important breakthroughs in understanding the fundamentals of dust charging, mobilization and lofting mechanisms, offering strong support for its occurrence on the surfaces of airless bodies including the Moon.

However, there are currently no unambiguous measurements that can confirm this electrostatic phenomenon in space. Currently, an Electrostatic Dust Analyzer (EDA) is under development through NASA's DALI program for future lunar landed missions in order to determine ground truth about this phenomenon. EDA measures the charge, mass and velocity of lofted dust particles on the lunar surface. The instrument consists of two identical Dust Trajectory Sensors (DTS) each on one end of the instrument and a Deflection Field Electrodes (DFE) unit lying in between the two DTS. The charge and velocity of a dust particle entering the instrument are measured from image charges induced on the wire electrodes in the DTS. The mass of the dust particle is derived from its deflected trajectory by the DFE. Importantly, the EDA measurements will determine the lofting rate that helps us understand how fast this process goes against other surface processes such as space weathering.

Measurements enabled by EDA will improve our understanding of the role of electrostatic dust transport in shaping the surface physical properties and near-surface dust environment on the Moon, as well as make important implications to such a surface process on other airless bodies, including Near-Earth-Asteroids (NEAs) and Maritain moons. Additionally, these measurements will help understand potential dust hazards to future robotic and human exploration on the lunar surface.

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Submitted on : Monday, February 7, 2022 - 3:18:53 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, May 10, 2022 - 3:24:57 PM

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X. Wang, Z. Sternovsky, M. Horanyi, J. Deca, I. Garrick-Bethell, et al.. Electrostatic Dust Analyzer (EDA) for Characterizing Dust Transport on the Lunar Surface. American Geophysical Union, 2020, Online, France. ⟨insu-03560378⟩

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