Dust Movement On The Moon, Saturn's Rings Solved
Dust particles on the Moon seem to levitate and move across great distances; similar phenomena are observed on the craters of the asteroid Eros and even in Saturn's rings. NASA scientists have announced an explanation of the phenomena.
(Patched Charge Model demoed in lab tests)
On the Moon, these dust particles would scatter light reflected from the Sun, creating that famous ‘horizon glow’ that was first captured in the 1960s by the Apollo astronauts and NASA’s Surveyor probes.
“[T]hese dust particles would have been lofted more than ten centimeters (four inches) above the lunar surface, leading researchers to conclude that the moon’s “horizon glow” — seen in images taken by Surveyor 5, 6, and 7 five decades ago — may have been caused in part by sunlight scattering in a cloud of electrostatically lofted dust particles,” according to NASA.
The same phenomenon was observed later over Saturn’s rings and in the craters of the asteroid Eros — where dust is also transported across vast regions devoid of winds or flowing water. “We expect dust particles to mobilize and transport electrostatically over the entire lunar surface, as well as the surface of any other airless planetary body,” said Wang.
“This new ‘patched charge model’ resolved a fundamental mechanism of dust charging and transport, which has been puzzling scientists for decades,” explained researcher Xu Wang, from NASA’s Ames Research Centre in California. The journal Geophysical Research Letters published the study.
Science fiction author Hal Clement predicted in a 1956 short story that electrostatically charged lunar dust particles might actually suspend themselves above the surface:
"…The [Moon's] surface material is one of the lousiest imaginable electrical conductors, so the dust normally on the surface picks up and keeps a charge. And what, dear student, happens to particles carrying like electrical charges?"
"They are repelled from each other."
(From Dust Rag, Astounding Science Fiction, 1956)
(Hal Clement's Astounding 1956 prediction)
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