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Regions of interest (ROI) for future exploration missions to the lunar South Pole

Flahaut, J. ; Carpenter, J. ; Williams, J.P. ; Anand, M. ; Crawford, I.A. ; van Westrenen, W. ; Füri, E. ; Xiao, L. ; Zhao, S., Planetary and Space Science

Regions of interest (ROI) for future exploration missions to the lunar South Pole

Flahaut, J. ; Carpenter, J. ; Williams, J.P. ; Anand, M. ; Crawford, I.A. ; van Westrenen, W. ; Füri, E. ; Xiao, L. ; Zhao, S.

Planetary and Space Science, 2020, 180

Abstract :

The last decades have been marked by increasing evidence for the presence of near-surface volatiles at the lunarpoles. Enhancement in hydrogen near both poles, UV and VNIR albedo anomalies, high CPR in remotely sensedradar data have all been tentatively interpreted as evidence for surface and/or subsurface water ice. Lunar waterice and other potential cold-trapped volatiles are targets of interest both as scientific repositories for under-standing the evolution of the Solar System and for exploration purposes. Determining the exact nature, extent andorigin of the volatile species at or near the surface in the lunar polar regions however requiresin situmeasure-ments via lander or rover missions. A number of upcoming missions will address these issues by obtainingin situdata or by returning samples from the lunar surface or shallow subsurface. These all rely on the selection ofoptimal landing sites. The present paper discusses potential regions of interest (ROI) for combined volatile andgeologic investigations in the vicinity of the lunar South Pole. We identified eleven regions of interest (including abroad area of interest (>200 km-200 km) at the South Pole, together with smaller regions located near Cabeus,Amundsen, Ibn Bajja, Wiechert J and Idel’son craters), with enhanced near-surface hydrogen concentration(H>100 ppm by weight) and where water ice is expected to be stable at the surface, considering the present-daysurface thermal regime. Identifying more specific landing sites for individual missions is critically dependent onthe mission’s goals and capabilities. We present detailed case studies of landing site analyses based on the missionscenario and requirements of the upcoming Luna-25 and Luna-27 landers and Lunar Prospecting Rover case study.Suitable sites with promising science outcomes were found for both lander and rover scenarios. However, therough topography and limited illumination conditions near the South Pole reduce the number of possible landingsites, especially for solar-powered missions. It is therefore expected that limited Sun and Earth visibility at lati-tudes>80°will impose very stringent constraints on the design and duration of future polar missions.

Voir en ligne : https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pss.2019....




publié vendredi 7 février 2020