Planetary Remote Sensing of the Lunar Crust

Remote sensing is the process of obtaining information from a source without actually coming in contact with that source. For an understanding of the formation of planets and their satellites, the investigation of the crust, the outermost solid shell of a rocky planet or natural satellite, which is chemically distinct from the underlying mantle is of particular importance. Ideally, chemical and isotopic analyses of rocks and minerals are used to understand the origin and evolution of planetary crusts and their surface environments. As a direct sampling of planetary material is often not possible, remote sensing methods have to be used. Among those the measurement of reflected visible to near-infrared (VNIR) radiation with optical instruments can be used to determine the mineralogical composition of the planetary surfaces, as the radiation is sensitive to surface mineralogy because highly diagnostic absorption features occur in this wavelength region. From a remote sensing perspective, the Moon is of paramount importance for the development and the refinement of remote sensing technologies, because only for the lunar surface do we have samples which can be compared to the remote sensed information. Just in the last few years new lunar missions have returned a wealth of new photographic and spectroscopic remotely sensed data which comes close to the quality of data collected in terrestrial labs and thus, allow not only an unprecedented view at the surface of our next planetary neighbor, but also a testing of the algorithms used to deconvolve the acquired remote sensing data.

In this particular Ph.D. project, the candidate will use data from the latest lunar remote sensing missions and acquire spectral data from minerals in the laboratory to quantify the distribution of selected minerals on the Moon.

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