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illustration of Gravitational Waves

Evidence for surface water ice in the lunar polar regions using reflectance measurements from the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter and temperature measurements from the Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment

We find that the reflectance of the lunar surface within 5° of latitude of the South Pole increases rapidly with decreasing temperature, near ∼110 K, behavior consistent with the presence of surface water ice

illustration of Gravitational Waves

illustration of Gravitational Waves.

Authors: Fisher, EA; Lucey, PG; Lemelin, M; Greenhagen, BT; Siegler, MA; Mazarico, E; Aharonson, O; Williams, JP; Hayne, PO; Neumann, GA; Paige, DA; Smith, DE; Zuber, MT

Abstract:
We find that the reflectance of the lunar surface within 5° of latitude of the South Pole increases rapidly with decreasing temperature, near ∼110 K, behavior consistent with the presence of surface water ice. The North polar region does not show this behavior, nor do South polar surfaces at latitudes more than 5° from the pole. This South pole reflectance anomaly persists when analysis is limited to surfaces with slopes less than 10° to eliminate false detection due to the brightening effect of mass wasting, and also when the very bright south polar crater Shackleton is excluded from the analysis. We also find that south polar regions of permanent shadow that have been reported to be generally brighter at 1064 nm do not show anomalous reflectance when their annual maximum surface temperatures are too high to preserve water ice. This distinction is not observed at the North Pole. The reflectance excursion on surfaces with maximum temperatures below 110 K is superimposed on a general trend of increasing reflectance with decreasing maximum temperature that is present throughout the polar regions in the north and south; we attribute this trend to a temperature or illumination-dependent space weathering effect (e.g. Hemingway et al., 2015). We also find a sudden increase in reflectance with decreasing temperature superimposed on the general trend at 200 K and possibly at 300 K. This may indicate the presence of other volatiles such as sulfur or organics. We identified and mapped surfaces with reflectances so high as to be unlikely to be part of an ice-free population. In this south we find a similar distribution found by Hayne et al. (2015) based on UV properties. In the north a cluster of pixels near that pole may represent a limited frost exposure.

Full article

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