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Long-wavelength Radar Studies of the Lunar MariaRadar measurements at 70 cm and 7.5 m wavelengths provide insight into the structure and chemical properties of the upper 5-100 m of the lunar regolith and crust. Past work has identified a number of anomalous regions and changes in echo strength, some attributed to differences in titanium content. There has been little opportunity, however, to compare calibrated long-wavelength backscatter among different units or to theoretical model results. We combine recent high-resolution (3-5 km) 70-cm radar data for the nearside with earlier calibrated full-disk observations to provide a reasonable estimate of the true lunar backscatter coefficient. These data are tested against models for quasi-specular scattering from the surface, echoes from a buried substrate, and Mie scattering from surface and buried rocks. We find that 70 cm echoes likely arise from Mie scattering by distributed rocks within the soil, consistent with earlier hypotheses. Returns from a buried substrate would provide a plausible fit to the observations only if the regolith depth were ~3 m or less and varied little across the maria. Depolarized echoes are due to some combination of single and multiple scattering events, but it appears that single scattering alone could account for the observed echo power, based on comparisons with terrestrial rocky surfaces. Backscatter strength from the regolith is most strongly affected by the loss tangent, whose variation with mineral content is still poorly defined. We compared the backscatter values for the mare deposits to the oxide contents inferred from spectral ratio methods, and found that in general the unit boundaries evident in radar images closely follow those seen in color difference images. The 70-cm data are not well correlated with TiO2 values found using the Charette relationship nor with Fe abundances derived from Clementine observations. The lack of a relationship between radar echo and Fe content is reasonable given the distribution of iron among various mineral phases, but ilmenite content (FeTiO3) has typically been cited as the dominant cause of changes in loss tangent (and thus the radar absorption). The lack of correlation between the radar data and TiO2 estimates may arise from uncertainties in the Charette technique, subtle differences in the upper surface and bulk properties of the regolith, mineralogic effects on the radar not linked to titanium content, or to some combination of these factors. Dark crater haloes in the mare and highlands, and low radar returns from apparent cryptomare regions, are used to illustrate the role radar data can play in identifying changes in regolith composition; low-return haloes around craters such as Petavius may indicate 5-25% contamination of the highlands soil by excavated mare material or a layer of rock-poor ejecta at least several meters deep. The 7.5-m data were shown to correlate to a reasonable degree with estimates of Fe abundance, suggesting that this component of the mare basalts is primarily responsible for attenuation losses at very long wavelengths. The different sensitivities of the two radar wavelengths and multispectral data offers the potential for future deep mapping of the mare lava flows and regolith.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Campbell, Bruce A.
Hawke, B. Ray
Thompson, Thomas W.
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1995
Publication Information
Publication: Journal of Geophysical Research (JGR -+ Planets)
Subject Category
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
Distribution Limits
Lunar MariaRadarLunar Studies