Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fresh Impact Crater in Mare Smythii

The featured image shows the interior of a fresh impact crater (approximately 300 m in diameter) in the Mare Smythii Constellation region of interest. In the high-sun image above, it is hard to recognize topographic features because there are no shadows. The wider view below, paired with a lower-sun image of the same crater on the right, gives a sharper view of small scale features such as boulders.

A wider view of the same fresh crater under high-sun (left, image M126371530LE, incidence angle of 21°) and lower sun image with illumination from the east (right, image M113392375LE, incidence angle of 50°).

The floor of this small crater looks like a basket of impact-melt covered rocks. Sampling the ejecta would help answer questions about the age of apparently recent impacts such as this one and the processes that cause their fresh rays to fade.

Mare Smythii is located on the eastern limb of the Moon and would provide an excellent place to sample relatively young (1-2 billion years old) basaltic lavas not represented in the sample collection. The western portion of the region of interest encompasses the crater Schubert C, the floor of which is fractured, possibly due to intrusions of lava beneath its surface - a great hypothesis for future explorers to assess.

Photo credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

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