Status Report

Earthshine as an Illumination Source at the Moon

By SpaceRef Editor
April 1, 2019
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David A. Glenar, Timothy J. Stubbs, Edward W. Schwieterman, Tyler D. Robinson, Timothy A. Livengood

(Submitted on 30 Mar 2019)

Earthshine is the dominant source of natural illumination on the surface of the Moon during lunar night, and at locations within permanently shadowed regions that never receive direct sunlight. As such, earthshine may enable the exploration of areas of the Moon that are hidden from solar illumination. The heat flux from earthshine may also influence the transport and cold trapping of volatiles present in the very coldest areas. In this study, Earth’s spectral radiance at the Moon is examined using a suite of Earth spectral models created using the Virtual Planetary Laboratory (VPL) three dimensional modeling capability. At the Moon, the broadband, hemispherical irradiance from Earth near 0 phase is approximately 0.15 watts per square meter, with comparable contributions from solar reflectance and thermal emission. Over the simulation timeframe, spanning two lunations, Earth’s thermal irradiance changes less than a few mW per square meter as a result of cloud variability and the south-to-north motion of sub-observer position. In solar band, Earth’s diurnally averaged light curve at phase angles < 60 degrees is well fit using a Henyey Greenstein integral phase function. At wavelengths > 0.7 microns, near the well known vegetation “red edge”, Earth’s reflected solar radiance shows significant diurnal modulation as a result of the longitudinal asymmetry in projected landmass, as well as from the distribution of clouds. A simple formulation with adjustable coefficients is presented for estimating Earth’s hemispherical irradiance at the Moon as a function of wavelength, phase angle and sub-observer coordinates. It is demonstrated that earthshine is sufficiently bright to serve as a natural illumination source for optical measurements from the lunar surface.

Comments: 27 pages, 15 figures, 1 table

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

Journal reference: Icarus, v321, 2019, 841-856

DOI: 10.1016/j.icarus.2018.12.025

Cite as: arXiv:1904.00236 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1904.00236v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history

From: David Glenar

[v1] Sat, 30 Mar 2019 15:43:38 UTC (2,735 KB)

SpaceRef staff editor.