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The Apollo 17 Regolith: Induced Thermoluminescence Evidence for Formation by a Single Event ~100 Million Years Ago and Possibly the Presence of Tycho Material.
  • Alexander Sehlke,
  • Derek Sears
Alexander Sehlke
NASA Ames Research Center

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Derek Sears
Bay Area Environmental Research Institute
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We explored the geological history of the Taurus-Littrow Valley at the Apollo 17 landing site through the induced thermoluminescence (TL) properties of regolith samples collected from the foothills of the Northern and Southern Massifs, near the landing site, and the deep drill core taken in proximity to the landing site. The samples were recently made available by NASA through the Apollo Next Generation Sample Analysis program, in anticipation of the forthcoming Artemis missions.
We found that the two samples from the foothills of the massifs exhibit induced TL values approximately four times higher than those of the valley samples. This observation is consistent with their elevated plagioclase content, indicating their predominantly highland material composition. Conversely, the valley samples display induced TL values characteristic of lunar mare material. The samples from the deep drill core demonstrate uniform induced TL properties, despite originating from depths of up to 3 meters. Notably, one of the samples from the lower section of the deep drill core presents anomalous induced TL readings. This anomaly coincides with elevated levels of low-potassium KREEP, along with reduced quantities of anorthositic gabbro and orange glass, and could be due to the traces of phosphate minerals. Alternatively, this observation raises the possibility that this sample contains Tycho impact material.
The induced TL data is consistent with the regolith, extending to a depth of at least 3 meters, having been deposited by a singular event approximately 100 million years ago. This timing aligns with the hypothesized formation of the Tycho crater.
21 Nov 2023Submitted to ESS Open Archive
22 Nov 2023Published in ESS Open Archive