To approach basic scientific questions on the origin and evolution of planetary bodies such as planets, their satellites and asteroids, one needs data on their chemical composition. The measurements of gamma-rays, X-rays and neutrons emitted from their surface materials provide information on abundances of major elements and naturally radioactive gamma-ray emitters. Neutron spectroscopy can provide sensitive maps of hydrogen- and carbon-containing compounds, even if buried, and can uniquely identify layers of carbon-dioxide frost. Nuclear spectroscopy, as a means of compositional analysis, has been applied via orbital and lander spacecraft to extraterrestrial planetary bodies: the Moon, Venus, Mars, Mercury and asteroids. The knowledge of their chemical abundances, especially concerning the Moon and Mars, has greatly increased in recent years. This paper describes the principle of nuclear spectroscopy, nuclear planetary instruments carried on planetary missions so far, and the nature of observational results and findings of the Moon and Mars, recently obtained by nuclear spectroscopy.
Nuclear Planetology: planetary remote sensing — elemental mapping — nuclear science payloads — chemical abundance