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Lunar Dust Detector

NSSDCA ID: 1969-099C-07

Mission Name: Apollo 12 Lunar Module / ALSEP
Principal Investigator:Dr. Brian J. O'Brien


The purpose of the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP) Lunar Dust Detector Experiment was to assess the long term effects of dust accumulation on solar cell performance. The Dust Detector had two components - a sensor package mounted on a housing on top of the central station sun shield and a printed circuit board located within the central station that interfaced with a preamplifier and the power distribution unit of the ALSEP data subsystem. The sensor package consisted of three silicon solar cells, one mounted horizontally on top of the housing and two mounted on the vertical sides. The data from the experiment consisted of the measured power output of each solar cell with time.

The Dust Detector was originally designed to measure only dust accumulation and this was the design flown on Apollo 12. It was expanded to include the particle, radiation, and temperature studies before it was flown on Apollo 11. The expanded experiments were flown on the Apollo 11, 14, and 15 missions.

The Dust Detector began operation with deployment of the ALSEP on 19 November 1969. The Dust Detector was turned off when ALSEP operations were terminated on 30 September 1977. Performance of the equipment was nominal.

Alternate Names

  • Apollo12ALSEP/LunarDustDetector
  • M515

Facts in Brief

Mass: 0.27 kg
Power (avg): 0.5 W
Bit rate (avg): 0.03313 kbps


  • Planetary Science: Small Bodies
  • Space Physics: Heliospheric Studies
  • Planetary Science: Geology and Geophysics

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this experiment can be directed to: Dr. David R. Williams



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Mr. James R. BatesCo-InvestigatorNASA Johnson Space
Dr. Brian J. O'BrienPrincipal InvestigatorDepartment of Environmental

Selected References

  • Bates, J. R., and P. H. Fang, Some astronomical effects observed by solar cells from Apollo missions on lunar surface, Solar Energy Materials Solar Cells, 68, No. 1, 23-29, Apr. 2001.
  • Bates, J. R., and P. H. Fang, Results of solar cell performance on lunar base derived from Apollo missions, Solar Energy Materials Solar Cells, 26, No. 1-2, 79-84, Mar. 1992.

Related Information at NSSDCA

Apollo 11 Dust Detector (DTREM) Experiment
Apollo 14 Dust Detector (DTREM) Experiment
Apollo 15 Dust Detector (DTREM) Experiment

Lunar Science
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