Abstract

We present a new empirical constraint on the rate of breakdown of large ejecta blocks on the Moon based on observations from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) Diviner thermal radiometer. We find that the rockiness of fresh crater ejecta can be quantified using the Diviner-derived rock abundance data set, and we present a strong inverse correlation between the 95th percentile value of the ejecta rock abundance (RA95/5) and crater age. For nine craters with published model ages derived from crater counts on their continuous ejecta, RA95/5 decreases with crater age, as (age [m.y.])–0.46. This result implies shorter rock survival times than predicted based on downward extrapolation of 100 m crater size-frequency distributions, and represents a new empirical constraint on the rate of comminution of large rocks not previously analyzed experimentally or through direct observation. In addition, our result provides a new method for dating young lunar craters.

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