Modeling the Lunar plasma wake

University dissertation from Luleå tekniska universitet

Abstract: This thesis discusses the solar wind interaction with the Moon and the formation of the lunar plasma wake from a kinetic perspective. The Moon is essentially a non-conducting body which has a tenuous atmosphere and no global magnetic fields. The solar wind plasma impacts directly the lunar day-side and is absorbed by the lunar surface. This creates a plasma void and forms a wake at the night side of the Moon. We study the properties and structure of the lunar wake for typical solar wind conditions using a three-dimensional hybrid plasma solver. Also, we study the solar wind proton velocity space distribution functions at close distances to the Moon in the lunar wake and investigate the effects of lunar surface plasma absorption and non-isothermal solar wind velocity space distribution functions on the solar wind protons there. Finally, we compare the simulation results with the observations and show that a hybrid model of plasma can explain the kinetic aspects of the lunar wake and we investigate the effects of the lunar surface plasma absorption and non-isothermal solar wind velocity distribution on the solar wind proton properties there.

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