Washington, June 30 (ANI): A team of scientists has found the first conclusive signature for the presence of uranium on the lunar surface, an element not seen in previous Moon-mapping efforts.
The uranium signatures were detected by Robert C. Reedy, a senior scientist at the Tucson-based Planetary Science Institute, who is mapping the Moon's surface elements using data gathered by an advanced gamma-ray spectrometer (GRS) that rode aboard the Japanese Kaguya spacecraft.
Kaguya was launched in September 2007 and crashed into the Moon at the end of its mission on June 10 of this year.
Earlier gamma-ray spectrometer maps from the Apollo and Lunar Prospector missions show a few of the Moon's chemical elements.
But, the maps constructed by Reedy and the Kaguya GRS team, using data gathered by state-of-the-art, high-energy-resolution germanium detectors, are extending the earlier results and improving our understanding of the Moon's surface composition.
In addition to uranium, the Kaguya GRS data also is showing clear signatures for thorium, potassium, oxygen, magnesium, silicon, calcium, titanium and iron.
Reedy and his colleagues are using measurements from the Kaguya lunar orbiter's GRS to construct high-quality maps of as many chemical elements as possible. We've already gotten uranium results, which have never been reported before," Reedy said. "We're getting more new elements and refining and confirming results found on the old maps," he added.
Reedy's continuing mapping work now is being funded for two years through NASA's SALMON program (Stand-Alone Missions of Opportunity).
"All of the work being funded is considerably improving our knowledge of the Moon's composition and its origin and evolution," Reedy said.
It also will help scientists locate lunar resources and help with planning for future lunar missions, he added. (ANI)