Open Access

The possibility of studying the lunar ionosphere with the SELENE radio science experiment

  • Takeshi Imamura117Email author,
  • Koh-Ichiro Oyama117,
  • Takahiro Iwata117,
  • Yusuke Kono217,
  • Koji Matsumoto217,
  • Qinghui Liu217,
  • Hirotomo Noda217,
  • Yoshifumi Futaana317 and
  • Alexander Nabatov417
Earth, Planets and Space200860:BF03352803

Received: 21 March 2007

Accepted: 5 October 2007

Published: 9 April 2008


The electron density profiles above the lunar surface will be observed by the radio occultation technique during the SELENE mission using the Vstar sub-satellite. Previous radio occultation observations have indicated the existence of an ionosphere with densities of up to 1000 cm−3 above the dayside lunar surface. The measured densities are difficult to explain theoretically when the removal of plasma by the solar wind is considered, and thus the generation mechanism of the lunar ionosphere is a major issue, with even the validity of previous observations still under debate. The SELENE radio science experiment will establish the morphology of the lunar ionosphere and will reveal its relationship with various physical conditions to provide possible clues to the mechanism.

Key words

Lunar ionosphereSELENEradio science