Skip to main content

First optical observation of the Moon’s sodium exosphere from the lunar orbiter SELENE (Kaguya)

Abstract

The first successful observations of resonant scattering emission from the lunar sodium exosphere were made from the lunar orbiter SELENE (Kaguya) using TVIS instruments during the period 17–19 December, 2008. The emission intensity of the NaD-line decreased by 12±6%, with an average value of 5.4 kR (kilorayleighs) in this period, which was preceded, by 1 day, by enhancement of the solar proton flux associated with a corotating interaction region. The results suggest that solar wind particles foster the diffusion of sodium atoms or ions in the lunar regolith up to the surface and that the time scale of the diffusion is a few tens of hours. The declining activity of the Geminid meteor shower is also one possible explanation for the decreasing sodium exosphere.

References

  • Hodges, R. R., Jr., Helium and hydrogen in the lunar atmosphere, J. Geophys. Res., 78(34), 8055–8064, 1973.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hodges, R. R., Jr., Formation of the lunar atmosphere, Moon, 14, 139–157, 1975.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hoffman, J. H., R. R. Hodges Jr., and D. E. Evans, Lunar atmospheric composition results from Apollo 17, Proc. Lunar Sci. Conf., 4th, 2875–2875, 1973.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hunten, D. M., R.W. H. Kozlowski, and A. L. Sprague, A possible meteor shower on the Moon, Geophys. Res. Lett., 18, 2101–2104, 1991.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hunten, D. M., G. Cremonese, A. L. Sprague, R. E. Hill, S. Verani, and R. W. H. Kozlowski, The Leonid meteor shower and the lunar sodium atmosphere, Icarus, 136, 298–303, 1998.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kato, M., S. Sasaki, K. Tanaka, Y. Iijima, and Y. Takizawa, The Japanese lunar mission SELENE: Science goals and present status, Adv. Space Res., 42, 294–300, 2008.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McGrath, M. A., R. E. Johnson, and L. J. Lanzerotti, Sputtering of sodium on the planet Mercury, Nature, 323, 694–696, 1986.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mendillo, M., J. Baumgardner, and J. K. Wilson, Observational test for the solar wind origin of the Moon’s sodium atmosphere, Icarus, 137, 13–23, 1999.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Potter, A. E. and T. H. Morgan, Discovery of sodium and potassium vapor in the atmosphere of the Moon, Science, 241, 675–680, 1988.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Potter, A. E. and T. H. Morgan, Observations of the lunar sodium exosphere, Geophys. Res. Lett., 18(11), 2089–2092, 1991.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Potter, A. E. and T. H. Morgan, Variation of lunar sodium emission intensity with phase angle, Geophys. Res. Lett., 21(21), 2263–2266, 1994.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Potter, A. E., R. M. Killen, and T. H. Morgan, Variation of lunar sodium during passage of the Moon through Earth’s magnetotail, J. Geophys. Res., 105, 15,073–15,084, 2000.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Smith, S. M., J. K. Wilson, J. Baumgardner, and M. Mendillo, Discovery of the distant lunar sodium tail and its enhancement following the Leonid meteor shower of 1998, Geophys. Res. Lett., 26, 1649–1652, 1999.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sprague, A. L., R. W. H. Kozlowski, D. M. Hunten, W. K. Wells, and F. A. Grosse, The sodium and potassium atmosphere of the Moon and its interaction with the surface, Icarus, 96, 27–42, 1992.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Stern, S. A., The lunar atmosphere: History, status, current problems, and context, Rev. Geophys., 37, 453–491, 1999.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Taguchi, M., T. Sakanoi, S. Okano, M. Kagitani, M. Kikuchi, M. Ejiri, I. Yoshikawa, A. Yamazaki, G. Murakami, K. Yoshioka, S. Kameda, F. Ezawa, T. Toyota, W. Miyake, M. Nakamura, and K. Shiokawa, The Upper atmosphere and Plasma Imager/the Telescope of Visible light (UPI/TVIS) onboard the Kaguya spacecraft, Earth Planets Space, 2009 (submitted).

    Google Scholar 

  • Tyler, A. L., R. W. H. Kozlowski, and D. M. Hunten, Observations of sodium in the tenuous lunar atmosphere, Geophys. Res. Lett., 15(10), 1141–1144, 1988.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Verani, S., C. Barbieri, C. R. Benn, and G. Cremonese, Possible detection of meteor stream effects on the lunar sodium atmosphere, Planet. Space Sci., 46, 1003–1006, 1998.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Verani, S., C. Barbieri, C. R. Benn, G. Cremonese, and M. Mendillo, Possible detection of meteor stream effects on the lunar sodium atmosphere, Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 327, 244–248, 2001.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wilson, J. K., S. M. Smith, J. Baumgardner, and M. Mendillo, Modeling an enhancement of the lunar sodium atmosphere and tail during the Leonid meteor shower of 1998, Geophys. Res. Lett., 26, 1645–1648, 1999.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wilson, J. K., M. Mendillo, and H. E. Spence, Magnetospheric influence on the Moon’s exosphere, J. Geophys. Res., 111, A07207, doi:10.1029/2005JA011364, 2006.

    Google Scholar 

  • Yamazaki, A., S. Tashiro, Y. Nakasaka, I. Yoshikawa, W. Miyake, and M. Nakamura, Sounding-rocket observation of O II 83.4-nm emission over the polar ionosphere, Geophys. Res. Lett., 29, 2005, 2002.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Yoshikawa, I., M. Nakamura, M. Hirahara, Y. Takizawa, K. Yamashita, H. Kunieda, T. Yamazaki, K. Misaki, and A. Yamaguchi, Observation of He II emission from the plasmasphere by a newly developed EUV telescope on board sounding rocket S-520-19, J. Geophys. Res., 109, 19897, 1997.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Yoshikawa, I., A. Yamazaki, G. Murakami, K. Yoshioka, S. Kameda, F. Ezawa, T. Toyota, W. Miyake, M. Taguchi, M. Kikuchi, and M. Nakamura, Telescope of extreme ultraviolet (TEX) onboard SELENE: science from the Moon, Earth Planets Space, 60, 407–416, 2008.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to M. Kagitani.

Rights and permissions

Open Access  This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made.

The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder.

To view a copy of this licence, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kagitani, M., Taguchi, M., Yamazaki, A. et al. First optical observation of the Moon’s sodium exosphere from the lunar orbiter SELENE (Kaguya). Earth Planet Sp 61, 1025–1029 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1186/BF03352953

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/BF03352953

Key words

  • Lunar sodium exosphere
  • lunar orbiter SELENE
  • resonant scattering emission
  • Geminid meteor shower