Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

2015 Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James (Jim) CleavesII, Daniele L. Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Daniel Rouan, Tilman Spohn, Stéphane Tirard, Michel Viso

Regolith, Planetary

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-662-44185-5_1364


Regolith is the cover of loose material overlying the bedrock of a  planet, satellite, or  asteroid and includes fragmented and weathered rocks, soil, and sediments.


A regolith is the cover or mantle of loose material overlying the bedrock of a planet or other solid solar system body. It includes fragmented and weathered rock debris, soil, and sediments. If present, atmospheres, hydrospheres, or biospheres, as in the case of the  Earth, play a dominant role in regolith formation. More common, however, are planetary bodies without a dense atmosphere. Here, the regolith is formed and modified by impact processes, mass wasting, and  space weathering, as on the surfaces of  Mercury, most of the satellites, and the asteroids. The processes involved, however, vary over time (cratering rate and impactor size), with gravity and the heliocentric distance (kinetic energy and space weathering).

The best-studied example of a planetary regolith is the lunar case. During the...


Megaregolith Lunar soil Regolith 
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References and Further Reading

  1. Heiken GH, Vaniman DT, French BM (eds) (1991) Lunar sourcebook: a user’s guide to the moon. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  2. Lucey P, Korotev RL, Gillis JJ, Taylor LA, Lawrence D, Campbell BA, Elphic R, Feldman B, Hood LL, Hunten D, Mendillo M, Noble S, Papike JJ, Reedy RC, Lawson S, Prettyman T, Gasnault O, Maurice S (2006) Understanding the lunar surface and space-moon interactions. Rev Mineral Geochem 60:83–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Sullivan RJ, Thomas PC, Murchie SL, Robinson MS (2002) Asteroid geology from Galileo and NEAR shoemaker data. In: Bottke WF et al (eds) Asteroids III. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, pp 331–350Google Scholar
  4. Taylor GM, Eggleton RA (2001) Regolith geology and geomorphology: nature and process. Wiley, ChichesterGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.DLRInstitute of Planetary ResearchBerlinGermany