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Conference papers

Detecting Volatiles Deep in the Lunar Regolith

Abstract : There is increasing theoretical and empirical evidence, from the Apollo era and after, of volatiles deep in the lunar interior, in the crust and deeper, both hydrogen-rich and otherwise. This comes in the form of fire fountain samples from Apollo 15 and Apollo 17, of hydrated minerals excavated by impacts which reach the base of the lunar crust e.g., crater Bullialdus, of hydration of apatite and other minerals, as well as predictions of a water-concentrated layer along with the KREEP material at the base of the lunar crust. We discuss how the presence of these volatiles might be directly explored. In particular water vapor molecules percolating to the surface through lunar regolith might be expected to stick and freeze into the regolith, at depths of several meters depending on the regolith temperature profile, porosity and particle size distribution, quantities that are not well known beyond two meters depth. To explore these depths in the regolith we use and propose several modes of penetrating radar. We will present results using the SELENE/Kaguya's Lunar Sounding RADAR (LSR) to probe the bulk volatile dielectric and loss structure properties of the regolith in various locations, both within permanently shadowed regions (PSRs) and without, and within neutron suppression regions (NSRs) as traced by epithermal neutrons and without. We also propose installation of ground penetrating RADAR (GPR) on a roving lunar platform that should be able to probe between 0.2 and 1.6 GHz, which will provide a probe of the entire depth of the lunar regolith as well as a high-resolution (about 4 cm FWHM) probe of the upper meter or two of the lunar soil, where other probes of volatiles such as epithermal neutron absorption or drilling might be employed. We discuss predictions for what kinds of volatile density profiles might be distinguished in this way, and whether these will be detected from orbit as NSRs, whether these must be restricted to PSRs, and how these might appear in LSR measurements.
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Contributor : Catherine Cardon <>
Submitted on : Thursday, December 17, 2015 - 2:43:07 PM
Last modification on : Friday, December 18, 2020 - 6:46:05 PM


  • HAL Id : insu-01245639, version 1


Arlin Crotts, Essam Heggy, Valérie Ciarletti, Anthony Colaprete, Mahta Moghaddam, et al.. Detecting Volatiles Deep in the Lunar Regolith. AGU Fall Meeting 2015, Dec 2015, San Francisco, United States. pp.P51D-06. ⟨insu-01245639⟩



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