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Gravity Under the Lunar Artemis Sites

Presentation #101.09 in the session Moon & Earth I (Oral Presentation)

Published onOct 23, 2023
Gravity Under the Lunar Artemis Sites

The high interest in the thirteen potential Artemis sites is not only because of the need to select sites that will permit safe landing but because they also have a potential to provide data on the presence of natural resources that will be essential for long-term habitation. The data normally used to identify a site of potential value is through knowledge of shadowing, temperature history, and neutron radiation, particularly when trying to identify locations where there is a possibility of the presence of water ice. The addition of insitu gravity data could be of considerable help in identifying the presence of density changes. However, at the present time the best “surface gravity” data for the moon, with the exception of the few sites at which surface gravity has been measured, e.g. the Apollo sites, are spacecraft measurements, particularly, the GRAIL mission. The limitation of spacecraft data is their surface resolution in spherical harmonic degree and their accuracy in mGal. For a GRAIL gravity model of degree and order 1200 the spatial resolution is ~5 km and vertically ~1.5 km, at best

We investigate the gravity structure beneath each of the Artemis sites to derive the variation of gravity, particularly for the top 5 km, despite the limitations in accuracy due to its high spherical harmonic degree and the presence of significant data noise. We derive the gravity spectra for crustal densities of 2500 and 2000 kg m-3 and compare the signals to provide a sensitivity of the spectra to crustal density. The gravity signals do not directly provide a density but do indicate how the gravity is changing with depth and, by implication, the possible variation in bulk density, although not quantifiable.

In this study we present the gravity for each Artemis site for the approximate depth range of 2-5 km and try to separate the noise in the data from broader trends seen at many of the sites that may have potential scientific implications.

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