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A comparison of infrared, radar, and geologic mapping of lunar craters


Between 1000 and 2000 infrared (eclipse) and radar anomalies have been mapped on the nearside hemisphere of the Moon. A study of 52 of these anomalies indicates that most are related to impact craters and that the nature of the infrared and radar responses is compatible with a previously developed geologic model of crater aging processes. The youngest craters are pronounced thermal and radar anomalies; that is, they have enhanced eclipse temperatures and are strong radar scatterers. With increasing crater age, the associated thermal and radar responses become progressively less noticeable until they assume values for the average lunar surface. The last type of anomaly to disappear is radar enhancement at longer wavelengths. A few craters, however, have infrared and radar behaviors not predicted by the aging model. One previously unknown feature - a field strewn with centimeter-sized rock fragments - has been identified by this technique of comparing maps at the infrared, radar, and visual wavelengths.

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A major portion of this paper was written during June 1970 at the working symposium on the geophysical interpretation of the Moon, Lunar Science Institute, Houston, Texas, chaired by Eugene Simmons of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The paper is Contribution No. 16 of The Lunar Science Institute, which is supported under Universities Space Research Association, Charlottesville, Virginia, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Manned Spacecraft Center, Contact No NSR 09-051-001.

Now at University of Utah Research Institute, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112.

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Thompson, T.W., Masursky, H., Shorthill, R.W. et al. A comparison of infrared, radar, and geologic mapping of lunar craters. The Moon 10, 87–117 (1974).

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  • Radar
  • Geologic Mapping
  • Longe Wavelength
  • Rock Fragment
  • Aging Model