Jaumann, R.; Hiesinger, H.; Anand, M.; Crawford, I. A.; Wagner, R.; Sohl, F.; Jolliff, B. L.; Scholten, F.; Knapmeyer, M.; Hoffmann, H.; Hussmann, H.; Grott, M.; Hempel, S.; Köhler, U.; Krohn, K.; Schmitz, N.; Carpenter, J.; Wieczorek, M.; Spohn, T.; Robinson, M. S. and Oberst, J.
Geology, geochemistry, and geophysics of the Moon: status of current understanding.
Planetary And Space Science (In press).
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The Moon is key to understanding both Earth and our Solar System in terms of planetary processes and has been a witness of the Solar System history for more than 4.5 Ga. Building on earlier telescopic observations, our knowledge about the Moon was transformed by the wealth of information provided by Apollo and other space missions. These demonstrated the value of the Moon for understanding the fundamental processes that drive planetary formation and evolution. The Moon was understood as an inert body with its geology mainly restricted to impact and volcanism with associated tectonics, and a relative simple composition. Unlike Earth, an absence of plate tectonics has preserved a well-defined accretion and geological evolution record. However recent missions to the Moon show that this traditional view of the lunar surface is certainly an over simplification. For example, although it has long been suspected that ice might be preserved in cold traps at the lunar poles, recent results also indicate the formation and retention of OH− and H2O outside of polar regions. These volatiles are likely to be formed as a result of hydration processes operating at the lunar surface including the production of H2O and OH by solar wind protons interacting with oxygen-rich rock surfaces produced during micrometeorite impact on lunar soil particles. Moreover, on the basis of Lunar Prospector gamma-ray data, the lunar crust and underlying mantle has been found to be divided into distinct terranes that possess unique geochemical, geophysical, and geological characteristics. The concentration of heat producing elements on the nearside hemisphere of the Moon in the Procellarum KREEP Terrane has apparently led to the nearside being more volcanically active than the farside. Recent dating of basalts has shown that lunar volcanism was active for almost 3 Ga, starting at about 3.9–4.0 Ga and ceasing at ~1.2 Ga. A recent re-processing of the seismic data supports the presence of a partially molten layer at the base of the mantle and shows not only the presence of a 330 km liquid core, but also a small solid inner core. Today, the Moon does not have a dynamo-generated magnetic field like that of the Earth. However, remnant magnetization of the lunar crust and the paleomagnetic record of some lunar samples suggest that magnetization was acquired, possibly from an intrinsic magnetic field caused by an early lunar core dynamo. In summary, the Moon is a complex differentiated planetary object and much remains to be explored and discovered, especially regarding the origin of the Moon, the history of the Earth-Moon system, and processes that have operated in the inner Solar System over the last 4.5 Ga. Returning to the Moon is therefore the critical next stepping-stone to further exploration and understanding of our planetary neighborhood.
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