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Workshop: Machine Learning and the Physical Sciences

Thermophysical Change Detection on the Moon with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Diviner sensor

Jose Delgado-Centeno · Silvia Bucci · Ziyi Liang · Ben Gaffinet · Valentin T. Bickel · Ben Moseley · Miguel Olivares


The Moon is an archive for the history of the Solar System, as it has recorded and preserved physical events that have occurred over billions of years. NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has been studying the lunar surface for more than 13 years, and its datasets contain valuable information about the evolution of the Moon. However, the vast amount of data collected by LRO makes the extraction of scientific insights very challenging - in the past, the majority of analyses relied on human review. Here, we present NEPHTHYS, an automated solution for discovering thermophysical changes on the surface using one of LRO's largest datasets: the thermal data collected by its Diviner instrument. Specifically, NEPHTHYS is able to perform systematic, efficient, and large-scale change detection of present-day impact craters on the surface. With further work, it could enable more comprehensive studies of lunar surface impact flux rates and surface evolution rates, providing critical new information for future missions.

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