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Lunar Near-Surface Volatile Sample Return

By Igor Aleinov, Michael J. Way, Christopher W. Hamilton and James W. Head


The origin, distribution, depth and volume of lunar volatiles remain open questions. One of the possible sources of Moon's volatiles is their volcanic outgassing during the peak of lunar volcanic activity ~3.5 Ga. This same outgassing would also produce a tenuous transient atmosphere which would promote the delivery of volatiles from the volcanic sources to the polar cold traps. Though such an atmosphere could have played an important role in the evolution of the Moon, little is known about it due to high uncertainty level in the mechanisms involved. The only reliable proxy for the ancient lunar atmosphere are the primordial volatiles deposited by it, which are expected to be preserved in the polar cold traps, and could be studied through sample return. In this white paper we therefore advocate that a volatile sample return from the Moon's polar cold traps should be a fundamental part of the Artemis program.Comment: 2 pages, A white paper submitted to the Artemis Science Definition Team of NASA's Science Mission Directorat

Topics: Astrophysics - Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics, Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
Year: 2020
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