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Solar-wind protons and heavy ions sputtering of lunar surface materials

Solar-wind protons and heavy ions sputtering of lunar surface materials,10.1016/j.nimb.2010.12.033,Nuclear Instruments & Methods in Physics Research S

Solar-wind protons and heavy ions sputtering of lunar surface materials  
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Lunar surface materials are exposed to ∼1keV/amu solar-wind protons and heavy ions on almost continuous basis. As the lunar surface consists of mostly oxides, these materials suffer, in principle, both kinetic and potential sputtering due to the actions of the solar-wind ions. Sputtering is an important mechanism affecting the composition of both the lunar surface and its tenuous exosphere. While the contribution of kinetic sputtering to the changes in the composition of the surface layer of these oxides is well understood and modeled, the role and implications of potential sputtering remain unclear. As new potential-sputtering data from multi-charged ions impacting lunar regolith simulants are becoming available from Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s MIRF, we examine the role and possible implications of potential sputtering of Lunar KREEP soil. Using a non-equilibrium model we demonstrate that solar-wind heavy ions’ induced sputtering is critical in establishing the timescale of the overall solar-wind sputtering process of the lunar surface. We also show that potential sputtering leads to a more pronounced and significant differentiation between depleted and enriched surface elements. We briefly discuss the impacts of enhanced sputtering on the composition of the regolith and the exosphere, as well as of solar-wind sputtering as a source of hydrogen and water on the moon.
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