Analysis of spacecraft data for the study of diverse lunar volcanism and regolith maturation rates

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Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft missions provide new data for investigating the youngest impact craters on Mercury and the Moon, along

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft missions provide new data for investigating the youngest impact craters on Mercury and the Moon, along with lunar volcanic end-members: ancient silicic and young basaltic volcanism. The LRO Wide Angle Camera (WAC) and Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) in-flight absolute radiometric calibration used ground-based Robotic Lunar Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope data as standards. In-flight radiometric calibration is a small aspect of the entire calibration process but an important improvement upon the pre-flight measurements. Calibrated reflectance data are essential for comparing images from LRO to missions like MESSENGER, thus enabling science through engineering. Relative regolith optical maturation rates on Mercury and the Moon are estimated by comparing young impact crater densities and impact ejecta reflectance, thus empirically testing previous models of faster rates for Mercury relative to the Moon. Regolith maturation due to micrometeorite impacts and solar wind sputtering modies UV-VIS-NIR surface spectra, therefore understanding maturation rates is critical for interpreting remote sensing data from airless bodies. Results determined the regolith optical maturation rate on Mercury is 2 to 4 times faster than on the Moon. The Gruithuisen Domes, three lunar silicic volcanoes, represent relatively rare lunar lithologies possibly similar to rock fragments found in the Apollo sample collection. Lunar nonmare silicic volcanism has implications for lunar magmatic evolution. I estimated a rhyolitic composition using morphologic comparisons of the Gruithuisen Domes, measured from NAC 2-meter-per-pixel digital topographic models (DTMs), with terrestrial silicic dome morphologies and laboratory models of viscoplastic dome growth. Small, morphologically sharp irregular mare patches (IMPs) provide evidence for recent lunar volcanism widely distributed across the nearside lunar maria, which has implications for long-lived nearside magmatism. I identified 75 IMPs (100-5000 meters in dimension) in NAC images and DTMs, and determined stratigraphic relationships between units common to all IMPs. Crater counts give model ages from 18-58 Ma, and morphologic comparisons with young lunar features provided an additional age constraint of <100 Ma. The IMPs formed as low-volume basaltic eruptions significantly later than previous evidence of lunar mare basalt volcanism's end (1-1.2 Ga).