Thursday, September 4, 2014

Secondary scatter over Haret C and the SPA interior

A stream of secondary craters crosses the rim of Haret C (28.47 km; 57.6°S, 186.3°E), stretching from the northeast exterior, southeast into the interior of the crater, deep within the South Pole-Aitken impact basin. 6.52 km-wide field of view from LROC NAC mosaic M1163623161LR, LRO orbit 23388, August 25, 2014; 56.75° incidence, resolution 68 cm from 63.63 km over 57.6°S, 185.26°E [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].
H. Meyer
LROC News System

Closely clustered or overlapping craters of similar size and morphology are likely secondary craters.

Secondary craters form when an impactor hits the surface (forming the primary crater) and throws out blocks of material that proceed to form their own craters (secondaries) as they hit the surface.

Sometimes, secondary craters can be difficult to identify if they do not occur in groups. Because craters are used to estimate the age of a surface (a process called crater counting), it is important that scientists are able to identify secondary craters.

Thankfully, in the case of Haret C, the secondary craters stand out from primary craters due to their proximity to each other. Random impacts typically do not form clusters like those draped over Haret C (28.47 km; 57.6°S, 186.3°E) .

A quick look at Haret C made possible by the international burst of lunar exploration briefly inspired by interest in the run-up to the Constellation program. The crater chain is easy enough to see in the medium resolution global albedo mosaic swept up from Chang'e-2. And the basics of the ranges and elevations of the region are displayed using the LROC Quickmap service.
Within high resolution images, smaller craters are used for crater counting. However, secondary craters become more common at smaller diameters introducing a problem for crater counters if the secondaries cannot be distinguished from primary craters. Secondaries counted as primaries result in higher crater counts per unit area, which in turn result in age estimates that are older than the true age of the surface.

Haret C does not dominate, but it is easy to pick out near the center of this HDTV still (larger view HERE) from Japan's lunar orbiter Kaguya (SELENE-1) in 2008. There are two other stills where Haret C and its crater chain are visible in context with central South Pole-Aitken basin and it's larger neighbors Bose (92.5 km; 53.95°S, 190.63°E) and Bhabha (70.52 km; 55.49°S, 194.69°E), HERE and HERE [JAXA/NHK/SELENE].
A key science goal is coming to a better understanding of the morphology or abundance of secondaries relative to primary craters so that more accurate age estimates can be made for smaller, younger terrains: especially important for panning at the scale of the NAC images for future missions to the Moon.

Seven minutes of video from GRAIL-A (Ebb) during orbit 1902 in 2012. Using the student-directed Forward MoonKAM video camera we can close in on the secondary crater chain at Haret C looking north from a perspective beginning at 30 km rising to 41 km over the surface at the end of the sequence. Starting in the polar latitudes of the southern farside the compressed view quickly passes up over the enigmatic interior of South Pole-Aitken basin, over Antoniadi (137.91 km; 69.3°S, 186.94°E, home of the Moon's lowest elevation) north 22° following the meridian that crater shares with Haret C [NASA/JPL/UCSD/SRSC].
Explore the full-width NAC mosaic HERE. Do you see any primary craters in the mix?

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