Parametric study of LCROSS impact plume
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In 2009, NASA's LCROSS mission impacted Cabeus Crater near the Lunar South Pole with the spent Centaur upper stage rocket. The impact was observed by the trailing sheperding spacecraft (S-S/C) that impacted the moon 250 seconds after the Centaur impact. The main objective of the LCROSS mission was to verify the existence of water ice in the lunar regolith---the subsequent analysis of the data confirmed water ice present in the crater. The analysis of the S-S/C instrument data suggested that the plume consisted of two components: a central "spike" component and a thin, outward "cone" component. A model has been developed at The University of Texas at Austin improve the analysis of the data obtained by the S-S/C. This model is created with a free-molecular ballistic grain code that involves simulating individual regolith grains in the debris plume through grain-heating and grain-movement models and then modeling the spectral radiance properties of the grains as observed by the S-S/C. Mie scattering theory is used to model scattering and absorption of incoming solar radiation by the particles in the plume assuming they are perfect spheres. The UT LCROSS code was utilized in a parametric study that evaluated the effect of variations in assumed model plume parameters on the modeling of S-S/C UV-VIS instrument observations. The plume parameters were chosen based on the assumption that the dust plume was split into two components: a central spike and a surrounding high angle cone. The following parameters were varied: the spike and cone angles, the spike and cone grain radius distributions, and the spike mass fraction. The following parameters could be varied but were given fixed values: ice fraction between plume components, ice grain purity, albedo, and ice fraction in plume. The impact of these plume parameters upon plume brightness and blue/red color ratio was determined. Two grain models were used. In the initial grain species model all grains have a soil core surrounded by a thin ice shell. In the second, two species model two grain types were utilized: a pure ice grain component and a pure soil grain component.