The Lunar Electronosphere and Implications for Erosion on the Moon
Bodies in space that are subject to the solar ultraviolet emit photoelectrons. A portion of these escape, forming a current from the body balanced at equilibrium potential by accretion from the surrounding plasma. For a positively charged body a much larger flux of less energetic photoelectrons will be released from the surface, but fail to escape from the body. Their effect is to produce an inner screening of the body’s electric charge. The characteristics of this photoelectron sheath and the equilibrium surface potential are treated for spherical and flat bodies subject to the solar wind electron and ion flux.
The enhanced electric field resulting from the electronosphere gives rise on the Moon to electrostatic dust transport. Evidence for the presence of electrostatic erosion as a contributory process in shaping lunar features on the 1- to 10-m scale is found.
This transport mechanism, together with small and large-scale meteoric processes and radiation darkening of the exposed surface material, is adequate to account for the principal lunar features.
KeywordsSolar Wind Dust Particle Lunar Surface Impact Crater Lunar Regolith
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