Planetary and exoplanetary Astronomy Lunch Seminar (PALS) for 2021-11-29

Series: Planetary and exoplanetary Astronomy Lunch Seminar (PALS)
Date: Monday 29-Nov-2021
Time: 11:15-12:15
Location: ATL 1250 and via Zoom (link sent out to the PALS distribution list prior to the talk)
Speaker: Tim Stubbs and Ramin Lolachi (NASA/GSFC)
Title: Light Scattering by Dust in the Lunar Environment: Natural and Exploration-driven Sources

Dust is ubiquitous on the Moon and represents the finest component of the lunar regolith (particles < ~100 ┬Ám). It is primarily formed by continual bombardment of the lunar surface by meteoroids, which act to break-up rocks and regolith into finer particles. The size distribution of the irregularly-shaped regolith particles eventually reaches a steady state in which the very smallest particles (dust) can cohere together to form agglomerates. The meteoroid impacts eject dust into the lunar exosphere such that they form a permanent, asymmetric cloud around the Moon. The properties of this dust ejecta cloud are important to our understanding of the meteoroid environment at the Moon, as well as the evolution of the lunar surface. One of many lessons learned from the Apollo program is that lunar dust can be both a nuisance and hazard during operations on the Moon. During future exploration by the Artemis program, monitoring dust activity will be critical to understanding and mitigating problems with dust. Here we report on: (i) the first optical detection of the impact-generated dust ejecta cloud surrounding the Moon; and (ii) a concept for a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) camera that would be capable of sensitively monitoring dust activity at an exploration site. We will also discuss aspects of the light scattering simulation suite being developed at NASA Goddard. Our findings demonstrate how the observation and interpretation of sunlight scattered from lunar dust can be a powerful tool for science and exploration at the Moon.

For further information contact PALS coordinators Drs. Quanzhi Ye ( and Matej Malik (


Special accommodations for individuals with disabilities can be made by calling (301) 405-3001. It would be appreciated if we are notified at least one week in advance.


Directions and information about parking can be found here.

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