Plasma and Potential at the Lunar Surface

  • Robert H. Manka
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 37)


The various plasma environments of the Moon are described for the lunar orbit through the solar wind and geomagnetic tail. The sources of lunar surface charge, including plasma, photo, and secondary currents, are compraed for their expected range of values. The electric potential is calculated from probe theory as a function of local position on the lunar surface; the theory includes plasma environments which are both stationary and flowing. In agreement with several other calculations, the potential at the subsolar point is likely to be a few volts positive. However, for the case when the Moon is in the solar wind, the potential is calculated to be a few tens of volts negative at the terminator, and is expected to go to larger negative values on the dark side. If the Moon traverses a significant plasma sheet in the geomagnetic tail, then the dark side potential tends toward several kilovolts negative but may be strongly limited by the secondary electron current. Associated surface electric fields are estimated.


Solar Wind Interplanetary Magnetic Field Plasma Sheet Lunar Surface Electron Flux 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert H. Manka
    • 1
  1. 1.Space Science Dept.Rice UniversityHoustonUSA

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