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 Down to the quantum dot
07.07.2015 | Forschungszentrum Juelich

nachricht Transition from 3 to 2 dimensions increases conduction, MIPT scientists discover
07.07.2015 | Moscow Institute of Physics 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: Surfing a wake of light

Researchers observe and control light wakes for the first time

When a duck paddles across a pond or a supersonic plane flies through the sky, it leaves a wake in its path. Wakes occur whenever something is traveling...

Im Focus: Light-induced Magnetic Waves in Materials Engineered at the Atomic Scale

Researchers explore ultrafast control of magnetism across interfaces: A new study discovers how the sudden excitation of lattice vibrations in a crystal can trigger a change of the magnetic properties of an atomically-thin layer that lies on its surface.

A research team, led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter at CFEL in Hamburg, the University of Oxford, and the...

Im Focus: Viaducts with wind turbines, the new renewable energy source

Wind turbines could be installed under some of the biggest bridges on the road network to produce electricity. So it is confirmed by calculations carried out by a European researchers team, that have taken a viaduct in the Canary Islands as a reference. This concept could be applied in heavily built-up territories or natural areas with new constructions limitations.

The Juncal Viaduct, in Gran Canaria, has served as a reference for Spanish and British researchers to verify that the wind blowing between the pillars on this...

Im Focus: X-rays and electrons join forces to map catalytic reactions in real-time

New technique combines electron microscopy and synchrotron X-rays to track chemical reactions under real operating conditions

A new technique pioneered at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory reveals atomic-scale changes during catalytic reactions in real...

Im Focus: Iron: A biological element?

Think of an object made of iron: An I-beam, a car frame, a nail. Now imagine that half of the iron in that object owes its existence to bacteria living two and a half billion years ago.

Think of an object made of iron: An I-beam, a car frame, a nail. Now imagine that half of the iron in that object owes its existence to bacteria living two and...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

World Conference on Regenerative Medicine in Leipzig: Last chance to submit abstracts until 2 July

25.06.2015 | Event News

World Conference on Regenerative Medicine: Abstract Submission has been extended to 24 June

16.06.2015 | Event News

MUSE hosting Europe’s largest science communication conference

11.06.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Down to the quantum dot

07.07.2015 | Physics and Astronomy

Tundra study uncovers impact of climate warming in the Arctic

07.07.2015 | Earth Sciences

Transition from 3 to 2 dimensions increases conduction, MIPT scientists discover

07.07.2015 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>