Monday, December 07, 2015

What Chang'e-3 Saw Beneath the Lunar Regolith With its Radar

Structural analysis of lunar subsurface with Chang׳E-3 lunar penetrating radar


Lai et al


Geological structure of the subsurface of the Moon provides valuable information on lunar evolution. Recently, Chang׳E-3 has utilized lunar penetrating radar (LPR), which is equipped on the lunar rover named as Yutu, to detect the lunar geological structure in Northern Imbrium (44.1260N, 19.5014W) for the first time. As an in situ detector, Chang׳E-3 LPR has relative higher horizontal and vertical resolution and less clutter impact compared to spaceborne radars and earth-based radars.

In this work, we analyze the LPR data at 500 MHz transmission frequency to obtain the shallow subsurface structure of the landing area of Chang׳E-3 in Mare Imbrium. Filter method and amplitude recovery algorithms are utilized to alleviate the adverse effects of environment and system noises and compensate the amplitude losses during signal propagation. Based on the processed radar image, we observe numerous diffraction hyperbolae, which may be caused by discrete reflectors beneath the lunar surface. Hyperbolae fitting method is utilized to reverse the average dielectric constant to certain depth (View the MathML sourceε¯). Overall, the estimated View the MathML sourceε¯ increases with the depth and View the MathML sourceε¯ could be classified into three categories. Average View the MathML sourceε¯ of each category is 2.47, 3.40 and 6.16, respectively. Because of the large gap between the values of View the MathML sourceε¯ of neighboring categories, we speculate a three-layered structure of the shallow surface of LPR exploration region.

One possible geological picture of the speculated three-layered structure is presented as follows. The top layer is weathered layer of ejecta blanket with its average thickness and bound on error is 0.95±0.02 m. The second layer is the ejecta blanket of the nearby impact crater, and the corresponding average thickness is about 2.30±0.07 m, which is in good agreement with the two primary models of ejecta blanket thickness as a function of distance from the crater center. The third layer is regarded as a mixture of stones and soil. The echoes below the third layer are in the same magnitude as the noises, which may indicate that the fourth layer, if it exists, is uniform (no clear reflector) and its thickness is beyond the detection limit of LPR. Hence, we infer the fourth layer is a basalt layer.

No comments: