- © The Mineralogical Society Of America
The surface of the Moon is a critical boundary that shapes our understanding of the Moon as a whole. All geologic mapping and remote sensing techniques utilize only the outermost portion of the Moon. Before leaving the Moon for study in our laboratories, all lunar samples that have been studied existed at or very near the surface. With the exception of the deeply probing geophysical techniques, our understanding of the interior of the Moon is derived from surficial, but not superficial, information, coupled with boundary of the lunar crust, it is the lower boundary layer of the tenuous lunar atmosphere and constitutes both a source and a sink for atmospheric gases. The surface is also where the Moon interacts with the space environment, causing changes in the physical nature of lunar materials, and provides a laboratory for the study of processes that occur on all airless bodies.
The data obtained remotely by the Galileo, Clementine, and Lunar Prospector missions, as well as data derived from lunar meteorites, have resulted in major changes to our understanding of global distributions of chemistry and rocks. This chapter summarizes the current understanding of this critical interface, the surface of the Moon, in its role as the lower boundary of the lunar atmosphere, the upper boundary of the crust, and the window through which we view, through remote sensing, the composition of the crust and the history of the Moon. In this post-Lunar Prospector time, the view of the Moon has changed, lending new perspectives to lunar samples and lunar processes. But the New View will likely remain in flux as we continue to digest the results from these recent space missions and move forward to a new era of lunar exploration.
Despite the freshness of our perspective, this is an important moment to capture, …