Surface-Related Mercury in Lunar Samples

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Science  16 Apr 1971:
Vol. 172, Issue 3980, pp. 258-261
DOI: 10.1126/science.172.3980.258


Lunar samples contain mercury, which may be volatilized at lunar daytime temperatures. Such mercury may constitute part of the tenuous lunar atmosphere. If mercury can escape from the atmosphere by a nonthermal mechanism, an interior reservoir or exterior sources (such as meteorite infall or solar wind, or both) are required to replenish it. Core samples exhibit an increase in surface-related mercury with depth, which suggests that a cold trap exists below the surface. The orientation of rocks on the lunar surface may be inferred by differences in the amounts of surface-related mercury found on exterior and interior samples.