A 0.2 arc second phase shift in the 18.6 year forced precession of the lunar figure was inferred from analysis of lunar laser ranging data. The source of the phase shift is either viscous friction at a lunar core mantle boundary or solid friction caused by tidal flexing of the Moon by the Earth. Core mantle viscous coupling will explain the signature if the core radius R sub c approximately equals 330 km. On the other hand, solid friction can account for the signature only if the lunar solid friction 0 approximately equals 30 is abnormally small compared with that observed for, say, Mars (approximately equals 100 - 200). Although the inferred core radius is certainly within the limits imposed by the Apollo seismic experiment, it is significantly smaller than estimates of order 400-500 km from electromagnetic sounding. How accurate is the estimate of the R sub c derived from the phase shift? The effect of uncertainties in the frictional coupling mechanism, core density and ellipticity on the inferred core radius are discussed. The excitation of lunar free librations by core turbulence vis-a-vis other mechanisms (e.g., cometary or asteroidal impacts) and the influence of changes in lunar precession in the past on lunar dynamo generation are also examined.
LUNAR AND PLANETARY EXPLORATION
Lunar Planetary Inst. Conf. on the Origin of the Moon; p 6