Saturday, July 11, 2009

Kaguya uranium confirmation is late news

Though the results were strongly highlighted at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in March, the definitive identification of Uranium, northwest of the center of the Moon's nearside, the work done by the Planetary Science Institute and Japan's team working directly with Kaguya has suddenly become news.

Here's an example: Robert C. Reedy, a senior scientist at the Tucson-based Planetary Science Institute, is mapping the moon's surface elements using data gathered by an advanced gamma-ray spectrometer (GRS) that rode aboard the Japanese Kaguya spacecraft.

The data promise to show chemical elements on the moon that have never been identified before, and Reedy and the Kaguya GRS team already have found uranium signatures in the data, an element not seen in previous moon-mapping efforts.

The uranium results were recently announced in papers presented at the 40th Lunar and Planetary Conference and at the Proceedings of the International Workshop Advances in Cosmic Ray Science. The lead authors on those papers are Prof. Naoyuki Yamashita and Prof. Nobuyuki Hasebe respectively. Both are from Japan's Waseda University.

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. Kaguya was launched in September 2007 and crashed into the moon at the end of its mission on June 10 of this year.

"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. Some of these comparisons are being done with lunar elemental maps made by a Lunar Prospector team headed by PSI senior scientist Tom Prettyman."

Reedy has been an official co-investigator on the Kaguya GRS team since 2007, and has received some support from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

"Being selected as a co-investigator for a JAXA planetary mission is a great honor," Reedy said.

Read the Article HERE.

Read the Abstract Below:

Yamashita - Hasebe & Shibamura - Kobayashi - Karouji Hareyama, Kobayashi, Okudaira & Takashima - d’Uston & Maurice - Gasnault & Forni, Diez & Reedy - Kim & Arai, Ebihara, Sugihara & Takeda, Hayatsu, Iwabuchi, Nemoto, Takeda & Tsukada - Nagaoka, Hihara, Maejima - Nakazawa & Otake: Precise Observation of Uranium, Thorium, and Potassium on the Moon by the SELENE GRS [#1855] The SELENE GRS revealed the global distribution of U on the lunar surface for the first time. The U distribution and its trend with K and Th are discussed to help understand thermal history of the Moon.

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