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Title: The lunar thermal ice pump

It has long been suggested that water ice can exist in extremely cold regions near the lunar poles, where sublimation loss is negligible. The geographic distribution of H-bearing regolith shows only a partial or ambiguous correlation with permanently shadowed areas, thus suggesting that another mechanism may contribute to locally enhancing water concentrations. We show that under suitable conditions, water molecules can be pumped down into the regolith by day-night temperature cycles, leading to an enrichment of H{sub 2}O in excess of the surface concentration. Ideal conditions for pumping are estimated and found to occur where the mean surface temperature is below 105 K and the peak surface temperature is above 120 K. These conditions complement those of the classical cold traps that are roughly defined by peak temperatures lower than 120 K. On the present-day Moon, an estimated 0.8% of the global surface area experiences such temperature variations. Typically, pumping occurs on pole-facing slopes in small areas, but within a few degrees of each pole the equator-facing slopes are preferred. Although pumping of water molecules is expected over cumulatively large areas, the absolute yield of this pump is low; at best, a few percent of the H{sub 2}O delivered tomore » the surface could have accumulated in the near-surface layer in this way. The amount of ice increases with vapor diffusivity and is thus higher in the regolith with large pore spaces.« less
Authors:
 [1] ;  [2]
  1. Institute for Astronomy and NASA Astrobiology Institute, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI 96822 (United States)
  2. Helen Kimmel Center for Planetary Science, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, 76100 (Israel)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22356550
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 788; Journal Issue: 2; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ABUNDANCE; ASTROPHYSICS; COLD TRAPS; CONCENTRATION RATIO; CORRELATIONS; DIFFUSION; DISTRIBUTION; EQUATOR; ICE; LAYERS; MOLECULES; MOON; PUMPING; SATELLITES; SPACE; SUBLIMATION; SURFACES; WATER