The Lunar X-ray Observatory (LXO)

F. Scott Porter, Tony F. Abbey, Nigel P. Bannister, Jenny A. Carter, Michael Collier, Tom Cravens, Mike Evans, George W. Fraser, Massimiliano Galeazzi, Kent Hills, Kip Kuntz, Andrew Read, Ina P. Robertson, Steve Sembay, David G. Sibeck, Steve Snowden, Timothy Stubbs, Pavel Travnicek

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations


X-ray emission from charge exchange recombination between the highly ionized solar wind and neutral material in Earth's magnetosheath has complicated x-ray observations of celestial objects with x-ray observatories including ROSAT, Chandra, XMM-Newton, and Suzaku. However, the charge-exchange emission can also be used as an important diagnostic of the solar-wind interacting with the magnetosheath. Soft x-ray observations from low-earth orbit or even the highly eccentric orbits of Chandra and XMM-Newton are likely superpositions of the celestial object of interest, the true extra-solar soft x-ray background, geospheric charge exchange, and heliospheric charge exchange. We show that with a small x-ray telescope placed either on the moon, in a similar vein as the Apollo ALSEP instruments, or in a stable orbit at a similar distance from the earth, we can begin to disentangle the complicated emission structure in the soft x-ray band. Here we present initial results of a feasibility study recently funded by NASA to place a small x-ray telescope on the lunar surface. The telescope operates during lunar night to observe charge exchange interactions between the solar wind and magnetosphic neutrals, between the solar wind and the lunar atmosphere, and an unobstructed view of the soft x-ray background without the geospheric component.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSpace Telescopes and Instrumentation 2008
Subtitle of host publicationUltraviolet to Gamma Ray
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008
EventSpace Telescopes and Instrumentation 2008: Ultraviolet to Gamma Ray - Marseille, France
Duration: Jun 23 2008Jun 28 2008

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherSpace Telescopes and Instrumentation 2008: Ultraviolet to Gamma Ray


  • Charge exchange
  • Magnetosheath
  • Solar wind
  • X-ray astronomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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