AAS 200th meeting, Albuquerque, NM, June 2002
Session 82. Formation and Evolution of Solar System Bodies
Oral, Thursday, June 6, 2002, 10:00-11:30am, La Cienega

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[82.03] An Infrared Search for Lunar Impacts

P.D. LeVan (AFRL/VSSS), J.D. Drummond (AFRL/DES)

Small (< 1 kg) meteors are thought to impact the lunar surface on daily time scales . Such impacts are expected to heat the ejecta from the resulting impact craters. The heated particles would radiate in the infrared, perhaps as the primary means of returning to their equilibrium temperatures. Viewed against the dark side of the lunar surface, these impact events might be detectable at wavelengths corresponding to the standard astronomical N waveband (approximately 8 to 13 microns), and perhaps even at the shorter wavelengths of L (3 to 4 microns) and M (4.6 to 5 microns). A new generation of infrared focal plane arrays (FPA), having a 2048x2048 pixel format and spectral response extending to wavelengths near 5 microns, might be ideal for the discovery of such thermal signatures. Such an FPA, used at the focus of a ground-based telescope of meter-class or larger aperture, provides “seeing-limited” imaging of the entire lunar surface. The smallish size required of the telescope would make longer-term monitoring for these thermal signatures a practical undertaking. Detecting the signatures would provide needed confirmation of the ``low end" of the assumed mass distribution of interplanetary material hitting the Earth, or possibly set valuable upper limits on this extreme of the distribution.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34
© 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.