PSJC #147 September 27 2013

Catherine Neish (FIT)

Radar Love: Mini-RF Observes the Moon

Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) represents a unique way to observe the surface of planets. Using ground-based and orbital platforms, radars have provided new information about the topography, composition, and surface roughness of our planetary neighbors, as well as our own world. In June 2009, NASA launched the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) carrying the Mini-RF synthetic aperture radar. Since then, Mini-RF has imaged two-thirds of the Moon at 30 m resolution, in both polar and non-polar regions. In this talk, I will summarize the discoveries made by Mini-RF in its first three years of operations. In particular, I will discuss (a) how the unusual radar properties of ice may lead to its detection in the permanently shadowed regions at the poles of the Moon, and (b) how new observations of lunar impact melts are leading to a better understanding of the impact cratering process.