Resource potential of lunar permanently shadowed regions

H. M. Brown, A. K. Boyd, B. W. Denevi, M. R. Henriksen, M. R. Manheim, M. S. Robinson, E. J. Speyerer, R. V. Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The lunar polar regions contain permanently shadowed regions (PSRs) or local topographic depressions that never receive direct sunlight. These environments (<110 K) have the potential to cold-trap volatile materials in the form of ice, which are essential resources for exploration and industrialization of cislunar space and the Solar System. Orbital observations and those from the LCROSS impactor experiment provide evidence of the existence of water ice and other cold-trapped volatiles in PSRs; however, constraints on volatile abundance and distribution remain ambiguous as individual observations are not always in concord. Here we compile observations indicating the presence of volatiles from ten remotely sensed datasets in 65 PSRs to estimate the locations and mass of water ice deposits. Faustini, Cabeus, de Gerlache, Shoemaker, Haworth, Sverdrup, Slater, and Amundsen are likely the most resource-rich PSRs. Based on co-locations of observations indicative of surface frost and subsurface hydrogen abundance, we find that the craters with the highest potential mass in metric tons (t) of water ice include Cabeus (~11 × 106 t), Shoemaker (~5 × 106 t), Faustini (~4 × 106 t), de Gerlache (~3 × 106 t), and Haworth (~3 × 106 t). Future prospecting of lunar volatiles and water ice is contingent on filling knowledge gaps in resource potential, notably accurate measurements of grade and depth of volatiles. Our proposed ranking and estimates for resource tonnage are a tool to guide future orbital and landed missions that could accurately determine the resource potential of PSR deposits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number114874
JournalIcarus
Volume377
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Data reduction techniques
  • Ices
  • Moon
  • Regoliths
  • Surface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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