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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Detecting Sub-Micron Space Weathering Effects in Lunar Grains With Synchrotron Infrared Nanospectroscopy


Space weathering processes induce changes to the physical, chemical, and optical properties of space-exposed soil grains. For the Moon, space weathering causes reddening, darkening, and diminished contrast in reflectance spectra over visible and near-infrared wavelengths. The physical and chemical changes responsible for these optical effects occur on scales below the diffraction limit of traditional far-field spectroscopic techniques. Recently developed super-resolution spectroscopic techniques provide an opportunity to understand better the optical effects of space weathering on the sub-micrometer length scale. This paper uses synchrotron infrared nanospectroscopy to examine depth-profile samples from two mature lunar soils in the mid-infrared, 1,500 –700 cm−1 (6.7–14.3 μm). Our findings are broadly consistent with prior bulk observations and theoretical models of space weathered spectra of lunar materials. These results provide a direct spatial link between the physical/chemical changes in space-exposed grain surfaces and spectral changes of space weathered bodies.

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