Kurt Retherford

Kurt Retherford
Southwest Research Institute · Space Science and Engineering Division

About

246
Publications
16,838
Reads
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3,955
Citations
Additional affiliations
July 2002 - present
Southwest Research Institute
Position
  • Principal Investigator
August 1995 - June 2002
Johns Hopkins University
Position
  • PhD Student
December 1991 - July 1995
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Position
  • Student

Publications

Publications (246)
Article
Full-text available
With the wealth of missions selected to visit the lunar surface in the decade ahead, preparatory investigations into surface conditions are underway to explore potential challenges and science returns during these missions. One such mission, Lunar Vertex, is slated to explore a much-anticipated region–the lunar swirl and magnetic anomaly known as R...
Article
Full-text available
We analyze Hubble Space Telescope observations of Ganymede made with the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph between 1998 and 2017 to generate a brightness map of Ganymede's oxygen emission at 1,356 Å. Our Mercator projected map demonstrates that the brightness along Ganymede's northern and southern auroral ovals strongly varies with longitude. To...
Preprint
We analyze Hubble Space Telescope (HST) observations of Ganymede made with the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) between 1998 and 2017 to generate a brightness map of Ganymede's oxygen emission at 1356 A. Our Mercator projected map demonstrates that the brightness along Ganymede's northern and southern auroral ovals strongly varies with l...
Article
Full-text available
Returning humans to the Moon presents an unprecedented opportunity to determine the origin of volatiles stored in the permanently shaded regions (PSRs), which trace the history of lunar volcanic activity, solar wind surface chemistry, and volatile delivery to the Earth and Moon through impacts of comets, asteroids, and micrometeoroids. So far, the...
Article
Full-text available
We present reflectance spectra of Ganymede's leading and trailing hemispheres in the wavelength range 138–215 nm, obtained by the Hubble Space Telescope Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (HST/COS) in 2014. The most notable feature of both spectra is the absence of a sharp water absorption edge at ~165 nm, seen in laboratory measurements of ice reflectivi...
Preprint
The Alice UV spectrograph aboard NASA's New Horizons mission is sensitive to MeV electrons that penetrate the instrument's thin aluminum housing and interact with its microchannel plate detector. We have searched for penetrating electrons at heliocentric distance of 2-45 AU, finding no evidence of discrete events outside of the Jovian magnetosphere...
Article
Full-text available
Previous investigations proved the existence of local density enhancements in Europa’s atmosphere, advancing the idea of a possible origination from water plumes. These measurement strategies, however, were sensitive either to total absorption or atomic emissions, which limited the ability to assess the water content. Here we present direct searche...
Article
Full-text available
Using data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) Lyman Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP), we investigate the spectral properties of rayed craters in the far‐ultraviolet (FUV). Because LAMP is sensitive to the uppermost layer of the lunar surface and regolith grains, it is ideal for characterizing regolith maturity and space weathering products suc...
Preprint
Full-text available
Unexpected dynamic phenomena have surprised solar system observers in the past and have led to important discoveries about solar system workings. Observations at the initial stages of these events provide crucial information on the physical processes at work. We advocate for long-term/permanent programs on ground-based and space-based telescopes of...
Article
Full-text available
Unexpected dynamic phenomena have surprised solar system observers in the past and have led to important discoveries about solar system workings. Observations at the initial stages of these events provide crucial information on the physical processes at work. We advocate for long-term/permanent programs on ground-based and space-based telescopes of...
Article
Full-text available
Data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Lyman Alpha Mapping Project and Diviner are consistent with surface water on the Moon varying in abundance with both terrain type and local time/temperature. A thermal desorption model including latitudinally varying desorption activation energy reproduces the observations. We interpret the observed variab...
Article
Full-text available
The lunar South Pole crater Amundsen is a prime location to study the effects of space weathering in the far ultraviolet. Amundsen's equator-facing terrace walls are highly illuminated while the northern side of the crater has permanently shaded regions (PSRs). Using data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Lyman Alpha Mapping Project, we investi...
Article
Full-text available
The Lyman Alpha Mapping Project has detected five discrete low-albedo anomalies in Lyman-α (Ly-α; 121.6 nm) nighttime reflectance maps. These anomalies reside on the nearside of the Moon within the southeastern Oceanus Procellarum and northwestern Mare Nubium, coincident with regions that have been observed to be photometrically anomalous at visibl...
Article
Micro-Channel Plate (MCP) detectors can suffer from a form of degradation known as gain sag in regions with significant fluence. We have developed a method to recover the total Lyman-Alpha (Ly-α) emission line (121.6nm) flux for the Lyman-Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP) UV imaging spectrograph onboard of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), where g...
Article
We present detailed photometric properties of the Moon at far ultraviolet wavelengths. The far ultraviolet data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) Lyman Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP) instrument were used to derive two Hapke photometric parameters, the single-scattering albedo, w, and the asymmetry factor, b, in the single-particle phase fun...
Article
Recent observations of interplanetary medium atomic hydrogen Lyman-α emission in the outer solar system, made with the Alice ultraviolet spectrograph on New Horizons, are presented. The observations include regularly spaced great circle scans of the sky and pointed observations near the downstream and upstream flow directions of interstellar H atom...
Preprint
Full-text available
Recent observations of interplanetary medium (IPM) atomic hydrogen Lyman-{\alpha} (Ly{\alpha}) emission in the outer solar system, made with the Alice ultraviolet spectrograph on New Horizons (NH), are presented. The observations include regularly spaced great-circle scans of the sky and pointed observations near the downstream and upstream flow di...
Article
We observed the 2017 July 17 stellar occultation of HD 168233 by the Kuiper Belt Object (486958) 2014 MU69, the close flyby target of the extended New Horizons mission. Rather than capture a solid body occultation by the KBO itself, our program aimed to constrain the opacity of rings, moons, or other debris in the nearby environment. We used the Hu...
Preprint
We observed the July 17, 2017 stellar occultation of HD 168233 by the Kuiper Belt Object (486958) 2014 MU$_{69}$, the close flyby target of the extended New Horizons mission. Rather than capture a solid body occultation by the KBO itself, our program aimed to constrain the opacity of rings, moons, or other debris in the nearby environment. We used...
Article
We present an analysis of Europa's far-UV spectral albedo using observations during the 1999-2015 time period made by the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph on the Hubble Space Telescope. Disk-integrated observations show that the far-UV spectrum in the ~130 to 170-nm range is relatively flat or slightly blue (increasing albedo with decreasing wa...
Article
Context. Recent measurements by IBEX and detailed modeling have changed our understanding of the flow of the interstellar medium through the solar system. In particular, a time dependence of the direction of the interstellar medium flow has been proposed, and a new population of helium atoms, called the “warm breeze”, has been discovered. Aims. We...
Article
We report new measurements of the far-ultraviolet (FUV) bidirectional reflectance of Apollo soil 10084 from the Southwest Research Institute ultraviolet reflectance chamber. The bidirectional reflectance distribution function of this mare soil, enriched in Ti and Fe content, is rather featureless in the FUV wavelength region of 115–180 nm, except f...
Article
We designed and built a new test facility to investigate signal induced by electrons in the 0–3.5 MeV in the JUICE UVS and MAJIS instruments. The facility uses radioisotopes sources to produce low flux of electrons (<6000 electrons/cm².s). We present the facility, its capabilities and the results of measurements on UVS and MAJIS.
Article
Full-text available
Despite the numerous modeling efforts of the past, our knowledge on the radiation-induced physical and chemical processes in Europa’s tenuous atmosphere and on the exchange of material between the moon’s surface and Jupiter’s magnetosphere remains limited. In lack of an adequate number of in situ observations, the existence of a wide variety of mod...
Article
The Moon is an archetypal atmosphere-less celestial body in the Solar System. For such bodies, the environments are characterized by complex interaction among the space plasma, tenuous neutral gas, dust and the outermost layer of the surface. Here we propose the SELMA mission (Surface, Environment, and Lunar Magnetic Anomalies) to study how airless...
Article
Far-ultraviolet observations of Ganymede's atmospheric emissions were obtained with the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) onboard of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) on several occasions between 1998 and 2014. We analyze the Lyman-α emission from four HST campaigns in order to constrain the abundance and variation of atomic hydrogen in Ga...
Article
In December 2001, the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph of the Hubble Space Telescope obtained far-ultraviolet spectral images of Jupiter's moon Callisto. The leading and trailing hemispheres were observed in the spectral range 1190 Å to 1720 Å when the moon was at eastern and western elongations, respectively. We analyzed the hydrogen Lyman α (...
Article
The Lyman-Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP) UV spectrograph on board the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) performed a campaign to observe the Moon's nanodust exosphere, evidence for which was provided by the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) Ultraviolet and Visible Spectrometer (UVS) during the 2014 Quadrantid meteoroid stream. Th...
Article
Full-text available
The Alice instrument on NASA's New Horizons spacecraft observed an ultraviolet solar occultation by Pluto's atmosphere on 2015 July 14. The transmission vs. altitude was sensitive to the presence of N2, CH4, C2H2, C2H4, C2H6, and haze. We derived line-of-sight abundances and local number densities for the 5 molecular species, and line-of-sight opti...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The south pole of the Moon is an area of great interest for exploration and scientific research because many low-lying regions are permanently shaded and are likely to trap volatiles for extended periods of time, while adjacent topographic highs can experience extended periods of sunlight. One of the goals of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)...
Article
We study the morphology of Ganymede's FUV aurora by analyzing spectral images obtained over the past two decades by the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph on board the Hubble Space Telescope. The observations cover the eastern and western elongation as well as various magnetic latitudes of Ganymede within the Jovian plasma sheet. We find both asy...
Article
The morphology of Io's aurora is dominated by bright spots near the equator that oscillate up and down in approximate correlation with the oscillating orientation of the Jovian magnetospheric field. Analyzing Hubble Space Telescope images we find that the auroral spots oscillate in phase with the time-variable Jovian magnetic field at Io and that t...
Article
We report far-ultraviolet observations of Europa in transit of Jupiter obtained with the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph of the Hubble Space Telescope on six occasions between 2014 December and 2015 March. Absorption of Jupiter's bright hydrogen Lyα dayglow is detected in a region several moon radii above the limb in all observations. The obse...
Article
A unique feature of Pluto's large satellite Charon is its dark red northern polar cap. Similar colours on Pluto's surface have been attributed to tholin-like organic macromolecules produced by energetic radiation processing of hydrocarbons. The polar location on Charon implicates the temperature extremes that result from Charon's high obliquity and...
Article
The Jovian system is the focus of multiple current and future NASA and ESA missions, but dangerously high radiation levels surrounding the planet make operations of instruments sensitive to high energy electrons or gamma rays problematic. Microchannel plate (MCP) detectors have been the detectors of choice in planetary ultraviolet spectrographs for...
Article
The vast, deep, volatile-ice-filled basin informally named Sputnik Planum is central to Pluto's vigorous geological activity(1,2). Composed of molecular nitrogen, methane, and carbon monoxide ices(3), but dominated by nitrogen ice, this layer is organized into cells or polygons, typically about 10 to 40 kilometres across, that resemble the surface...
Article
We investigate the density and spatial distribution of the H2 exosphere of the Moon assuming various source mechanisms. Owing to its low mass, escape is non-negligible for H2. For high-energy source mechanisms, a high percentage of the released molecules escape lunar gravity. Thus, the H2 spatial distribution for high-energy release processes refle...
Article
Full-text available
The New Horizons spacecraft carried three instruments that measured the space environment near Pluto as it flew by on 14 July 2015. The Solar Wind Around Pluto (SWAP) instrument revealed an interaction region confined sunward of Pluto to within about 6 Pluto radii. The region’s surprisingly small size is consistent with a reduced atmospheric escape...
Article
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has revealed the complex geology of Pluto and Charon. Pluto’s encounter hemisphere shows ongoing surface geological activity centered on a vast basin containing a thick layer of volatile ices that appears to be involved in convection and advection, with a crater retention age no greater than ~10 million years. Surroun...
Article
Full-text available
Observations made during the New Horizons flyby provide a detailed snapshot of the current state of Pluto’s atmosphere. Whereas the lower atmosphere (at altitudes of less than 200 kilometers) is consistent with ground-based stellar occultations, the upper atmosphere is much colder and more compact than indicated by pre-encounter models. Molecular n...
Article
We report far-ultraviolet observations of Ceres obtained with the Cosmic Origin Spectrograph (COS) of the Hubble Space Telescope in the search for atomic emissions from an exosphere. The derived brightnesses at the oxygen lines at 1304 Å and 1356 Å are consistent with zero signals within the 1-σ propagated statistical uncertainties. The OI 1304 Å b...
Article
Lunar swirls – the enigmatic, magnetically-anomalous regions – are observed for the first time at far-UV (FUV) wavelengths using LRO/LAMP. Swirls in both highlands and mare regions are spectrally relatively red (or less blue) than surrounding terrains, indicating a difference in weathering and/or composition in the swirls vs. non-swirl regions. We...
Article
We analyze a large set of far-ultraviolet oxygen aurora images of Europa's atmosphere taken by Hubble's Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (HST/STIS) in 1999 and on 19 occasions between 2012 and 2015. We find that both brightness and aurora morphology undergo systematic variations correlated to the periodically changing plasma environment. The ti...
Article
We present results from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s (LRO) UV spectrograph LAMP (Lyman-Alpha Mapping Project) campaign to study the lunar atmosphere. Several off-nadir maneuvers (lateral rolls) were performed to search for resonantly scattering species, increasing the illuminated line-of-sight (and hence the signal from atoms resonantly scatterin...
Article
Full-text available
The Pluto system was recently explored by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, making closest approach on 14 July 2015. Pluto’s surface displays diverse landforms, terrain ages, albedos, colors, and composition gradients. Evidence is found for a water-ice crust, geologically young surface units, surface ice convection, wind streaks, volatile transport,...
Article
We report our progress toward optimizing backside-illuminated silicon P-type intrinsic N-type complementary metal oxide semiconductor devices developed by Teledyne Imaging Sensors (TIS) for far-ultraviolet (UV) planetary science applications. This project was motivated by initial measurements at Southwest Research Institute of the far-UV responsivi...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Solar glint suppression is an important consideration in the design of compact photon-counting ultraviolet spectrographs. Southwest Research Institute developed the Lyman Alpha Mapping Project for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (launch in 2009), and the Ultraviolet Spectrograph on Juno (Juno-UVS, launch in 2011). Both of these compact spectrograp...
Article
Full-text available
The upper 25-100. nm of the lunar regolith within the permanently shaded regions (PSRs) of the Moon has been demonstrated to have significantly higher surface porosity than the average lunar regolith by observations that the Lyman-α albedo measured by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) Lyman Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP) is lower in the PSRs tha...