"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.
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 But first, the second data set had to be converted from microfilm, which had been archived at NSSDC in the 1970s, and the two data sets had to reconciled because their time points didn't match up exactly.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."
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
Elizabeth Zubritsky | Source: EurekAlert!
Further information: www.nasa.gov
More articles from Physics and Astronomy:
CU-Boulder scientist: 2012 solar storm points up need for society to prepare
10.12.2013 | University of Colorado at Boulder
3D printing used as a tool to explain theoretical physics
09.12.2013 | Institute of Physics
The molecular architecture of three key proteins and their complexes reveals how plants fine-tune their immune response to pathogens
Plants rarely get sick in their natural environment. When the threat of infection arises, a quick decision is made about the necessary countermeasures. The course is set by a protein which forms complexes with its partner proteins for this purpose.
Jane Parker from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding ...
Researchers studying speciation of butterfly orchids on the Azores have been startled to discover that the answer to a long-debated question "Do the islands support one species or two species?" is actually "three species".
Hochstetter's Butterfly-orchid, newly recognized following application of a battery of scientific techniques and reveling in a complex taxonomic history worthy of Sherlock Holmes, is arguably Europe's rarest orchid species. Under threat in its mountain-top retreat, the orchid urgently requires conservation recognition.
A lavishly illustrated publication, titled "Systematic revision of Platanthera in ...
Researchers from Brown University and the University of Hawaii have found some mineralogical surprises in the Moon's largest impact crater.
Data from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper that flew aboard India's Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter shows a diverse mineralogy in the subsurface of the giant South Pole Aitken basin.
The differing mineral signatures could be reflective of the minerals dredged up at the time of the giant impact 4 billion years ago, ...
In power electronics systems bonded connections create the central electrical connections between adjoining surfaces.
The quality of these bonded connections is one of the main factors that determines the reliability and availability of drive systems in electric vehicles, and hence constitutes a major design challenge for German auto manufacturers aiming to electrify their vehicles.
Now the partners participating in the RoBE (Robust Bonds in ...
International team of scientists develops new feedback method for optimizing the laser pulse shapes used in the control of chemical reactions
In many ways, traditional chemical synthesis is similar to cooking. To alter the final product, you can change the ingredients or their ratio, change the method of mixing ingredients, or change the temperature or pressure of the environment of the ingredients.
Like an accomplished chef, chemists have become very skilled ...
11.12.2013 | Information Technology
11.12.2013 | Life Sciences
11.12.2013 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
11.12.2013 | Event News
10.12.2013 | Event News
05.12.2013 | Event News