http://apollo-society.org/lecture_series.html

The Hawai`i Space Lecture Series

presents
*

Science of the Lunar Poles

Tuesday * September 26, 2000 * 7:30pm

by
Dr. Paul Lucey
Planetary Scientist

Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology

This presentation will be held at the
NASA Pacific Regional Planetary Data Center
Sinclair Library Basement, Rm.6
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Honolulu, Hawaii
Phone: (808) 956-3132
Email: prpdc@pgd.hawaii.edu

*


Abstract

The low obliquity of the Moon gives rise to permanently shadowed regions in topographic depressions near the lunar poles. Shielded from direct sunlight, these regions will achieve very low temperatures, below 50K according to some models. Such surfaces will act as natural cold traps for any volatiles which might encounter them. Models of the evolution of the Moon's orbit suggest that the current obliquity has persisted for over 2.5 billion years, so the lunar cold traps have been operating over a lengthy and interesting period. The recent Lunar Prospector mission provided compelling evidence that hydrogen is concentrated near the poles in positions corresponding to model cold traps. While the popular presumption has been that the hydrogen is borne by water ice, the vector of this hydrogen is actually unknown. Over time the lunar surface has intercepted volatiles from comets, asteroids and other meteoritic material, the Sun and even from giant molecular clouds through which the solar system occasionally passes. None of these sources can provide only hydrogen to a polar cold trap, so the detected hydrogen is probably only the tip of the iceberg and is a likely indicator of a diverse volatile deposit. I will review the many interesting issues related to the lunar poles and describe a Discovery mission proposal recently submitted by UH to explore these regions with a combination of remote sensing and in situ analysis.



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