The Young Age of the LAMP-observed Frost in Lunar Polar Cold Traps

W. M. Farrell, D. M. Hurley, M. J. Poston, P. O. Hayne, J. R. Szalay, J. L. McLain

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42 Scopus citations


The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter/Lyman Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP) ultraviolet instrument detected a 0.5–2% icy regolith mix on the floor of some of the southern pole permanently shadowed craters of the Moon. We present calculations indicating that most or all of this icy regolith detected by LAMP (sensed to a depth of <1 μm) has to be relatively young—less than 2,000 years old—due to the surface erosional loss by plasma sputtering (external ionized gas-surface interactions), meteoric impact vaporization, and meteoric impact ejection. These processes, especially meteoric impact ejection, will disperse water along the crater floor, even onto warm regions where it will then undergo desorption. We have determined that there should be a water exosphere over polar craters (e.g., like Haworth crater) and calculated that a model 40-km-diameter crater should emit ~1019 H2O per second into the exosphere in the form of free molecules and ice-embedded particulates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8680-8688
Number of pages9
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 16 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


  • dust
  • impacts
  • Moon
  • plasma
  • volatiles


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