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Evidence for fine-grained material at lunar red spots: Insights from thermal infrared and radar data sets

September 23, 2023

Lunar red spots are small spectrally red features that have been proposed to be the result of non-mare volcanism. Studies have shown that a number of red spots are silicic, and are spectrally distinct from both highlands and mare compositions. In this work, we use data from LRO Diviner, Mini-RF, and Arecibo to investigate the material properties of 10 red spots. We create albedo maps using Diviner daytime solar reflectance data to use as an input to our improved thermophysical model, and calculate the rock abundance (RA) and H-parameter values that best fit Diviner nighttime thermal infrared radiance measurements. The H-parameter can be considered analogous to the thermal inertia of the regolith, with a high H-parameter corresponding to low thermal inertia. We find that the red spots generally have low RA, and do not have a uniform H-parameter but contain localized regions of high H-parameter. We additionally find that the red spots have a low circular polarization ratio (CPR) in many of the same locations that show a low RA and high H-parameter. Low RA, high H-parameter, and low CPR indicate a relative lack of rocks larger than ∼10 cm, which is consistent with previous findings of a mantling of fine-grained pyroclastic material for at least three red spots. Areas with high H-parameter but that do not show clear signs of pyroclastics in other data sets may be evidence of previously undiscovered pyroclastics, or could be due to the unique physical properties (e.g., porosity, rock strength/breakdown resistance) of the rocks that make up the red spots.

Publication Year 2023
Title Evidence for fine-grained material at lunar red spots: Insights from thermal infrared and radar data sets
DOI 10.3847/PSJ/acf134
Authors Benjamin Byron, Catherine Elder, Timothy Glotch, Paul Hayne, Lori M Pigue, Joshua T. S. Cahill
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Planetary Science Journal
Index ID 70249627
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Astrogeology Science Center