• lunar surface composition;
  • lunar Mg abundances;
  • high-energy gamma rays

[1] An analysis of the lunar gamma-ray spectrum as measured by the Lunar Prospector Gamma-Ray Spectrometer has revealed that 8–8.9 MeV gamma rays contain information about the elemental composition of near-surface materials. These high-energy gamma rays are found to be primarily sensitive to the total Fe and Mg content of the surface, although other elements also contribute. This information has been used to identify several regions with unique compositions, including the Hertzsprung and Orientale basins. A method for deriving global Mg abundances from high-energy gamma-ray measurements is presented. The physical mechanism for high-energy gamma-ray production is proposed to be radiation produced during the decay of galactic cosmic ray produced pions within the lunar surface. Laboratory measurements of pion production cross sections are found to be consistent with the empirically derived relationship between the lunar Fe, Mg, and Ti abundances and the measured high-energy gamma-ray count rates.