Imaging the South Pole-Aitken basin in backscattered neutral hydrogen atoms

Vorburger, Audrey Helena; Wurz, Peter; Barabash, S.; Wieser, M.; Futaana, Y.; Bhardwaj, A.; Asamura, K. (2015). Imaging the South Pole-Aitken basin in backscattered neutral hydrogen atoms. Planetary and space science, 115, pp. 57-63. Elsevier 10.1016/j.pss.2015.02.007

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The lunar surface is very efficient in reflecting impinging solar wind ions as energetic neutral atoms (ENAs). A global analysis of lunar hydrogen ENAs showed that on average 16% of the solar wind protons are reflected, and that the reflected fraction can range from less than 8% to more than 24%, depending on location. It is established that magnetic anomalies reduce the flux of backscattered hydrogen ENAs by screening-off a fraction of the impinging solar wind. The effects of the surface properties, such as porosity, roughness, chemical composition, and extent of weathering, were not known. In this paper, we conduct an in-depth analysis of ENA observations of the South Pole-Aitken basin to determine which of the surface properties might be responsible for the observed variation in the integral ENA flux. The South Pole-Aitken basin with its highly variable surface properties is an ideal object for such studies. It is very deep, possesses strikingly elevated concentrations in iron and thorium, has a low albedo and coincides with a cluster of strong magnetic anomalies located on the northern rim of the basin. Our analysis shows that whereas, as expected, the magnetic anomalies can account well for the observed ENA depletion at the South Pole-Aitken basin, none of the other surface properties seem to influence the ENA reflection efficiency. Therefore, the integral flux of backscattered hydrogen ENAs is mainly determined by the impinging plasma flux and ENA imaging of backscattered hydrogen captures the electrodynamics of the plasma at the surface. We cannot exclude minor effects by surface features. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Space Research and Planetary Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Vorburger, Audrey Helena and Wurz, Peter


500 Science
500 Science > 530 Physics








Katharina Weyeneth-Moser

Date Deposited:

10 Jun 2016 12:37

Last Modified:

01 Oct 2017 02:30

Publisher DOI:


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