The Miniature Radio Frequency instrument's (Mini-RF) global observations of Earth's Moon

Joshua T.S. Cahill, B. J. Thomson, G. Wesley Patterson, D. Benjamin J. Bussey, Catherine D. Neish, Norberto R. Lopez, F. Scott Turner, T. Aldridge, M. McAdam, H. M. Meyer, R. K. Raney, L. M. Carter, P. D. Spudis, H. Hiesinger, J. H. Pasckert

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Radar provides a unique means to analyze the surface and subsurface physical properties of geologic deposits, including their wavelength-scale roughness, the relative depth of the deposits, and some limited compositional information. The NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's (LRO) Miniature Radio Frequency (Mini-RF) instrument has enabled these analyses on the Moon at a global scale. Mini-RF has accumulated ~67% coverage of the lunar surface in S-band ( radar with a resolution of 30. m/pixel. Here we present new Mini-RF global orthorectified uncontrolled S-band maps of the Moon and use them for analysis of lunar surface physical properties. Reported here are readily apparent global- and regional-scale differences in lunar surface physical properties that suggest three distinct terranes, namely: a (1) Nearside Radar Dark Region; (2) Orientale basin and continuous ejecta; and the (3) Highlands Radar Bright Region. Integrating these observations with new data from LRO's Diviner Radiometer rock abundance maps, as well Clementine and Lunar Prospector derived compositional values show multiple distinct lunar surface terranes and sub-terranes based upon both physical and compositional surface properties. Previous geochemical investigations of the Moon suggested its crust is best divided into three to four basic crustal provinces or terranes (Feldspathic Highlands Terrane (-An and -Outer), Procellarum KREEP Terrane, and South Pole Aitken Terrane) that are distinct from one another. However, integration of these geochemical data sets with new geophysical data sets allows us to refine these terranes. The result shows a more complex view of these same crustal provinces and provides valuable scientific and hazard perspectives for future targeted human and robotic exploration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-190
Number of pages18
StatePublished - Nov 5 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Cratering
  • Moon
  • Radar observations
  • Volcanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The Miniature Radio Frequency instrument's (Mini-RF) global observations of Earth's Moon'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this