Volcanic deposits may aid lunar outposts

January 23, 2008

A U.S. study of radar images of the moon suggests deposits from early lunar volcanoes might be useful to astronauts at lunar stations.

Bruce Campbell and associates at the National Air and Space Museum said ancient volcanic eruptions on the Moon produced deposits of fine-grained, often glass-rich, pyroclastic material. In some places, such as at the Aristarchus Plateau, the deposits can be up to nearly 100 feet thick.

Campbell said the pyroclastics are of interest as possible sources of materials for lunar outposts.

The scientists used longer wavelength radar images from Earth-based radio telescopes that penetrate the mantling layers to "see" underlying terrain and details of the geologic events, including the extent of lava flows that shaped the plateau.

When struck by relatively small meteorites, the lava flows are broken into rocks and mixed into the fine-grained layers above, the researchers said, noting such abundant rocks might complicate the use of the pyroclastics as a resource for future lunar explorers.

The new radar data can be used to identify thick, rock-poor areas of the pyroclastic deposits best suited for resource recovery.

The study is reported in the journal Geology.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Explore further: Immobilized Yutu rover still providing valuable lunar data (Update)

Related Stories

Understanding the planets through volcanoes

May 21, 2014

Billions of years ago, volcanoes sent material from inside planetary bodies to the surface. Subsequent impacts have covered those original deposits. Jennifer Whitten, who receives her Ph.D. in geological sciences this year, ...

Yutu technical problems persist

February 24, 2014

The world famous and hugely popular 'Yutu' rover entered its 3rd Lunar night time hibernation period this weekend as planned, but serious technical troubles persist that are hampering science operations Chinese space managers ...

Walls of lunar crater may hold patchy ice, LRO radar finds

August 30, 2012

(Phys.org)—Small patches of ice could make up at most five to ten percent of material in walls of Shackleton crater. Scientists using the Mini-RF radar on NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) have estimated the maximum ...

Recommended for you

'Carbon sink' detected underneath world's deserts

July 28, 2015

The world's deserts may be storing some of the climate-changing carbon dioxide emitted by human activities, a new study suggests. Massive aquifers underneath deserts could hold more carbon than all the plants on land, according ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

out7x
1 / 5 (1) Jan 25, 2008
no mention of wavelength used. Depth of penetration? Pyroclastic is a general term of various igneous fragment sizes.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.