Rock Fragments in Shallow Lunar Regolith: Constraints by the Lunar Penetrating Radar Onboard the Chang'E-4 Mission

Chunyu Ding, Zhiyong Xiao, Bo Wu, Zhaojin Li, Yan Su, Bin Zhou, Kaijun Liu, Jun Cui

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


It is generally believed that the top centimeters of mature lunar regolith should be dominated by fine particles that contain few rocky fragments, but surface fragments are occasionally visible in mature lunar regolith. Based on amplitudes of surface echoes received by the Lunar Penetrating Radar onboard the Yutu-2 rover of the Chang'E-4 mission, we extracted regions with abnormally high relative permittivity that is larger than 4, quantifying the abundance of dense fragments within the top ∼4 cm of the mature regolith along the rover path. We carried out high-resolution numerical simulations for the propagation of electromagnetic waves, showing that the abnormally high relative permittivity is not caused by local topography but due to the existence of dense materials. Using high-resolution images obtained by the panorama camera onboard the rover, we performed correlated observation for areas with abnormally high relative permittivity, confirming that some of these dense materials are exposed rocky fragments. However, most of the high relative permittivity areas are not correlated with surface fragments, and some are located beneath floors of highly degraded small impact craters. We found that regolith clumps formed due to impact compaction are not dense enough to cause the abnormally large relative permittivity. Alternatively, the detected dense materials may be melt-bearing impact breccias in the shallow regolith, which were formed by the host craters. The results revealed a highly heterogeneous structure at shallow depths of mature lunar regolith, revealing a new mechanism of sand-blasting impacts on the destruction of pores in mature lunar regolith.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021JE006917
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • Chang'E-4
  • impact craters
  • lunar penetrating radar
  • Moon
  • regolith
  • relative permittivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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