The Miniature Radio Frequency instrument's (Mini-RF) global observations of Earth's Moon


J.T.S. Cahill, B.J. Thomson, G. Wesley Patterson, D. Benjamin J. Bussey, Catherine D. Neish, Norberto R. Lopez, F. Scott Turner, T. Aldridge, M. McAdam, H.M. Meyer, R.K. Raney, L.M. Carter, P.D. Spudis, H. Hiesinger, J.H. Pasckert

Publication Year



Icarus 243: 173-190



Radar provides a unique means to analyze the surface and subsurface physical properties of geologic
deposits, including their wavelength-scale roughness, the relative depth of the deposits, and some
limited compositional information. The NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s (LRO) Miniature Radio Frequency
(Mini-RF) instrument has enabled these analyses on the Moon at a global scale. Mini-RF has accumulated
67% coverage of the lunar surface in S-band (12.6 cm) radar with a resolution of 30 m/pixel.
Here we present new Mini-RF global orthorectified uncontrolled S-band maps of the Moon and use them
for analysis of lunar surface physical properties. Reported here are readily apparent global- and regionalscale
differences in lunar surface physical properties that suggest three distinct terranes, namely: a (1)
Nearside Radar Dark Region; (2) Orientale basin and continuous ejecta; and the (3) Highlands Radar
Bright Region. Integrating these observations with new data from LRO’s Diviner Radiometer rock
abundance maps, as well Clementine and Lunar Prospector derived compositional values show multiple
distinct lunar surface terranes and sub-terranes based upon both physical and compositional surface
properties. Previous geochemical investigations of the Moon suggested its crust is best divided into
three to four basic crustal provinces or terranes (Feldspathic Highlands Terrane (-An and -Outer),
Procellarum KREEP Terrane, and South Pole Aitken Terrane) that are distinct from one another. However,
integration of these geochemical data sets with new geophysical data sets allows us to refine these
terranes. The result shows a more complex view of these same crustal provinces and provides valuable
scientific and hazard perspectives for future targeted human and robotic exploration.


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