Undergraduate Honors Thesis


Remote Sensing Dust Deposition by the Unique Reflectance Features of Lunar Regolith Public Deposited

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  • Fine grained regolith presents a potentially hazardous problem to lunar exploration and research, and it is vital to characterize regolith mobilization on airless bodies such as the Moon. Electrostatic dust lofting has been suggested to cause observations of dust movement such as the Lunar Horizon Glow, dust ponds on the near-earth asteroid 433 Eros, and the radial spokes on Saturn’s rings. Solar wind and UV radiation negatively charge the micro-cavities between dust particles. The resulting Coulomb force then overcomes the forces of gravity and cohesion, lofting the particles. Laboratory experiments have sought to characterize the launch velocities, lofting rates, and size distributions of regolith. However, without dedicated instrumentation needed to observe electrostatic dust lofting activities outside of the laboratory, a remote-sensing method may be the most feasible way to examine the possible fine grained regolith activity in situ. Our experiments seek to confirm and expand on the work of Yan et al., 2019, in which the reflectance color ratio profiles of lunar rock obtained by the Chang’E-3 Yutu rover cameras were proposed as a new identifier of dust deposition caused by electrostatic processes. Using the same color ratios, we directly compared the reflectance properties of JSC-1 lunar regolith simulant on a white background with varying dust coverage. We showed that the reflectance color ratios decrease with increasing dust coverage. Specifically, the Blue over Red ratio is most responsive to changes in dust density, whereas Blue over Green is the least responsive. Our findings agree well with the results from Yan et al., 2019. The robust correlation identified based on our controlled laboratory experiments lays the groundwork for studying dust deposition directly on airless bodies using remote sensing techniques. 

Date Awarded
  • 2022-04-04
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Last Modified
  • 2022-04-12
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