Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Apollo's Lunar Dust Data Being Restored

07.12.2012
Forty years after the last Apollo spacecraft launched, the science from those missions continues to shape our view of the moon. In one of the latest developments, readings from the Apollo 14 and 15 dust detectors have been restored by scientists with the National Space Science Data Center (NSSDC) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

"This is the first look at the fully calibrated, digital dust data from the Apollo 14 and 15 missions," said David Williams, a Goddard scientist and data specialist at NSSDC, NASA's permanent archive for space science mission data.


An Apollo 14 astronaut deploys the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package's power source (foreground) and "Central Station" (background), where the Lunar Dust Detector was mounted. Credit: NASA/JSC

The newly available data will make long-term analysis of the Apollo dust readings possible. Digital data from these two experiments were not archived before, and it's thought that roughly the last year-and-a-half of the data have never been studied.

The work was presented on December 6 at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, as part of a session organized in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 17 launch. Also presented in this session was a similar effort to fill in gaps in the Apollo 15 and 17 heat-flow measurements, the only such measurements ever taken on the moon or any planetary body other than Earth.

The recovery of these data sets is part of the Lunar Data Project, an ongoing NSSDC effort, drawing on researchers at multiple institutions, to make the scientific data from Apollo available in modern formats.

The Lunar Dust Detectors that were placed on the lunar surface during Apollo 14 and 15 measured dust accumulation, temperature and damage caused by high-energy cosmic particles and the sun's ultraviolet radiation. The same kind of instrument had flown earlier on Apollo 11 and 12 (Later, Apollo 17 carried a different type of dust detector).

Restoring the data was a painstaking job of going through one data set and separating the raw detector counts from temperatures and "housekeeping" information that was collected to keep an eye on how healthy the Apollo instruments were. A second, less complete data set indicated how to convert the raw counts into usable measurements. But first, the second data set had to be converted from microfilm, which had been archived at NSSDC in the 1970s, and the two data sets had to reconciled because their time points didn't match up exactly. Most of this meticulous work was carried out by Marie McBride, an undergraduate from the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne who was working with Williams through a NASA internship.

Newer missions, such as NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), have continued to study lunar dust. "It's one of those questions that scientists keep coming back to," said McBride.

"Just last week, LRO did some important measurements seeking dust profiles in the lunar atmosphere," said Rich Vondrak, the LRO deputy project scientist at NASA Goddard. LRO has been orbiting the moon since June 2009, and the mission was recently extended through 2015.

And the main objective of NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), scheduled to launch in 2013, is to characterize the moon's atmosphere and dust environment.

This offers another example of how profoundly influential the Apollo data continues to be, observed Noah Petro, a member of the LRO project science team at NASA Goddard. "A mission ends when it ends, but the science continues forever."

Elizabeth Zubritsky
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

Elizabeth Zubritsky | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nasa.gov
http://www.nasa.gov/topics/solarsystem/features/moon-view.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Upside down and inside out
27.04.2015 | University of Cambridge

nachricht Fast and Accurate 3-D Imaging Technique to Track Optically-Trapped Particles
24.04.2015 | Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fast and Accurate 3-D Imaging Technique to Track Optically-Trapped Particles

KAIST researchers published an article on the development of a novel technique to precisely track the 3-D positions of optically-trapped particles having complicated geometry in high speed in the April 2015 issue of Optica.

Daejeon, Republic of Korea, April 23, 2015--Optical tweezers have been used as an invaluable tool for exerting micro-scale force on microscopic particles and...

Im Focus: NOAA, Tulane identify second possible specimen of 'pocket shark' ever found

Pocket sharks are among the world's rarest finds

A very small and rare species of shark is swimming its way through scientific literature. But don't worry, the chances of this inches-long vertebrate biting...

Im Focus: Drexel materials scientists putting a new spin on computing memory

Ever since computers have been small enough to be fixtures on desks and laps, their central processing has functioned something like an atomic Etch A Sketch, with electromagnetic fields pushing data bits into place to encode data.

Unfortunately, the same drawbacks and perils of the mechanical sketch board have been just as pervasive in computing: making a change often requires starting...

Im Focus: Exploding stars help to understand thunderclouds on Earth

How is lightning initiated in thunderclouds? This is difficult to answer - how do you measure electric fields inside large, dangerously charged clouds? It was discovered, more or less by coincidence, that cosmic rays provide suitable probes to measure electric fields within thunderclouds. This surprising finding is published in Physical Review Letters on April 24th. The measurements were performed with the LOFAR radio telescope located in the Netherlands.

How is lightning initiated in thunderclouds? This is difficult to answer - how do you measure electric fields inside large, dangerously charged clouds? It was...

Im Focus: On the trail of a trace gas

Max Planck researcher Buhalqem Mamtimin determines how much nitrogen oxide is released into the atmosphere from agriculturally used oases.

In order to make statements about current and future air pollution, scientists use models which simulate the Earth’s atmosphere. A lot of information such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

HHL Energy Conference on May 11/12, 2015: Students Discuss about Decentralized Energy

23.04.2015 | Event News

“Developing our cities, preserving our planet”: Nobel Laureates gather for the first time in Asia

23.04.2015 | Event News

HHL's Entrepreneurship Conference on FinTech

13.04.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Strong Evidence – New Insight in Muscle Function

27.04.2015 | Life Sciences

The Future of Oil and Gas: Last of Her Kind

27.04.2015 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tiny Lab Devices Could Attack Huge Problem of Drug-Resistant Infections

27.04.2015 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>