Secondary electron emission from Martian soil simulant



In the recent years, growing interest in dust charging physics is connected with several lander missions running on or planned to the Moon, Mars, and Mercury for a near future. In support of these missions, laboratory simulations are a potential tool to optimize in situ exploration and measurements. In the paper, we have investigated electrical properties of a Martian soil simulant prepared at the Johnson Space Center under name JSC Mars-1 using the dust charging experiment when a single dust grain is trapped in a vacuum chamber and its secondary electron emission is studied. The exposure of the grain to the electron beam revealed that the grain surface potential is low and generally determined by a mean atomic number of the grain material at a low-energy range (<1 keV), whereas it can reach a limit of the field ion emission being irradiated by more energetic electrons. A comparison of model and experimental results reveals an influence of the grain shape and size predominantly in the range of higher (>2 keV) electron energies. We discuss possible implications of the secondary electron emission for the presence of lightnings on Mars.