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Thermoluminescence and Apollo 17 ANGSA lunar samples: NASA’s fifty-year experiment and prospecting for cold traps.
  • Derek WG Sears,
  • Alexander Sehlke,
  • Harrison H. Schmitt
Derek WG Sears
NASA Ames Research Center/Bay Area Environmental Research Institute

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Alexander Sehlke
NASA Ames Research Center
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Harrison H. Schmitt
University of Wisconsin-Madison
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By placing Apollo 17 regolith samples in a freezer, and storing an equivalent set at room temperature, NASA effectively performed a fifty-year experiment in the kinetics of natural thermoluminescence (TL) of the lunar regolith. We have performed a detailed analysis of the TL characteristics of a sunlit sample near the landing site (70180), a sample 3 m deep near the landing site (70001), a sample partially shaded by a boulder (72320), and a sample completely shaded by a boulder (76240).
We find eight discrete TL peaks, five apparent in curves for samples in the natural state, seven in samples irradiated in the laboratory at room temperature. For each peak we suggest values for peak temperatures and the kinetic parameters E (activation energy, i.e. “trap depth”, eV) and s (Arrhenius factor, s-1). The lowest natural TL peak in the continuously shaded sample 76240 dropped in intensity by 60±10% (1976 vs. present room temperature samples) and 43±8% (freezer vs room temperature samples) over the 50-year storage period, while the other samples showed no change. These results are consistent with our E and s parameters.
The large number of peaks, and the appearance of additional peaks after irradiation , and literature data, suggest that glow curve peaks are present in lunar regolith at ~100 K and their intensity can be used to determine storage times at these temperatures. Thus a TL instrument on the Moon could be used to prospect for a micro-cold traps capable of deposition, build-up and storage of volatiles.