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

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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.

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Correspondence to M. Kagitani.

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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) doi:10.1186/BF03352953

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Key words

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