Lunar Prospector: Overview

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Science  04 Sep 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5382, pp. 1475-1476
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5382.1475

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Lunar Prospector is providing a global map of the composition of the moon and analyzing the moon's gravity and magnetic fields. It has been in a polar orbit around the moon since 16 January 1998. Neutron flux data show that there is abundant H, and hence probably abundant water ice, in the lunar polar regions. Gamma-ray and neutron data reveal the distribution of Fe, Ti, and other major and trace elements on the moon. The data delineate the global distributions of a key trace element–rich component of lunar materials called KREEP and of the major rock types. Magnetic mapping shows that the lunar magnetic fields are strong antipodal to Mare Imbrium and Mare Serenitatis and has discovered the smallest known magnetosphere, magnetosheath, and bow shock complex in the solar system. Gravity mapping has delineated seven new gravity anomalies and shown that the moon has a small Fe-rich core of about 300 km radius.

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