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Evidence for a localized source of the argon in the Lunar Exosphere.

Kegerreis, Jacob A. and Eke, Vincent R. and Massey, Richard J. and Beaumont, Simon K. and Elphic, Rick C. and Teodoro, Luis F. (2017) 'Evidence for a localized source of the argon in the Lunar Exosphere.', Journal of geophysical research : planets., 122 (10). pp. 2163-2181.


We perform the first tests of various proposed explanations for observed features of the Moon's argon exosphere, including models of the following: spatially varying surface interactions; a source that reflects the lunar near-surface potassium distribution; and temporally varying cold trap areas. Measurements from the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) and the Lunar Atmosphere Composition Experiment (LACE) are used to test whether these models can reproduce the data. The spatially varying surface interactions hypothesized in previous work cannot reproduce the persistent argon enhancement observed over the western maria. They also fail to match the observed local time of the near-sunrise peak in argon density, which is the same for the highland and mare regions and is well reproduced by simple surface interactions with a ubiquitous desorption energy of 28 kJ mol−1. A localized source can explain the observations, with a trade-off between an unexpectedly localized source or an unexpectedly brief lifetime of argon atoms in the exosphere. To match the observations, a point-like source requires source and loss rates of ∼1.9 × 1021 atoms s−1. A more diffuse source, weighted by the near-surface potassium, requires much higher rates of ∼1.1 × 1022 atoms s−1, corresponding to a mean lifetime of just 1.4 lunar days. We do not address the mechanism for producing a localized source, but demonstrate that this appears to be the only model that can reproduce the observations. Large, seasonally varying cold traps could explain the long-term fluctuation in the global argon density observed by LADEE, but not that by LACE.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:Kegerreis, Jacob A., Eke, Vincent R., Massey, Richard J., Beaumont, Simon K., Elphic, Rick C. & Teodoro, Luis F. (2017). Evidence for a Localized Source of the Argon in the Lunar Exosphere. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets 122(10): 2163-2181, 10.1002/2017JE005352 (DOI). To view the published open abstract, go to
Date accepted:27 September 2017
Date deposited:31 October 2017
Date of first online publication:26 October 2017
Date first made open access:26 April 2018

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