Lunar surface composition and solar wind‐Induced secondary ion mass spectrometry

R. C. Elphic, H. O. Funsten, B. L. Barraclough, D. J. McComas, M. T. Paffett, D. T. Vaniman, G. Heiken

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The Moon has no strong global magnetic field and only a tenuous atmosphere, so solar wind ions (∼95% H+, 5% He++) directly bombard the lunar surface, sputtering atoms and secondary ions from the exposed grains of the regolith. The secondary ions potentially provide surface composition information through secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS), a standard laboratory surface composition analysis technique. In this paper we report the results of laboratory SIMS experiments on lunar soil simulants using solar wind‐like ions. We find that H+ and He++, while not efficient sputterers, nevertheless produce significant fluxes of secondary lunar ions, including Na+, Mg+, Al+, Si+, K+, Ca+, Ti+, Mn+ and Fe+. We predict that lunar surface secondary‐ion fluxes range between ∼10 and 104 ions cm−2 s−1, depending on the species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2165-2168
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1991
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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