Publication: Impact Ejecta and Gardening in the Lunar Polar Regions

Saturday, Jan 26, 2019

The Moon is continually bombarded by interplanetary meteoroids. While many of the meteoroid sources are near the ecliptic plane, a significant population of high-inclination meteoroids exists at 1 au that bombards the lunar polar regions. Building on previous measurements of the response of the lunar impact ejecta cloud to known meteoroid sources, we develop an ejecta model for the entire lunar surface by incorporating the high-inclination sources. We find that the polar regions of the Moon experience similar quantities of impact ejecta production as the equator. Due to the enhanced impactor fluxes near the equator and at high latitudes on the dawn side, lunar regolith is preferentially distributed to the mid to high-latitude regions over long timescales, providing a pathway to mix regolith from different regions. We find impact ejecta yields at the Moon to be significantly lower than the Galilean moons, suggesting meteoroids deliver more energy to the local regolith and can be an important driver in the evolution of volatiles near the lunar surface. Additionally, we find that a polar orbiting spacecraft equipped with a dust analyzer can measure appreciable quantities of lunar ejecta near the poles to constrain the water content in the polar regions.

PDF iconLink to paper here.