Lunar Surface Magnetic Fields and Their Interaction with the Solar Wind: Results from Lunar Prospector

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Science  04 Sep 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5382, pp. 1480-1484
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5382.1480


The magnetometer and electron reflectometer experiment on the Lunar Prospector spacecraft has obtained maps of lunar crustal magnetic fields and observed the interaction between the solar wind and regions of strong crustal magnetic fields at high selenographic latitude (30°S to 80°S) and low (∼100 kilometers) altitude. Electron reflection maps of the regions antipodal to the Imbrium and Serenitatis impact basins, extending to 80°S latitude, show that crustal magnetic fields fill most of the antipodal zones of those basins. This finding provides further evidence for the hypothesis that basin-forming impacts result in magnetization of the lunar crust at their antipodes. The crustal magnetic fields of the Imbrium antipode region are strong enough to deflect the solar wind and form a miniature (100 to several hundred kilometers across) magnetosphere, magnetosheath, and bow shock system.

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