Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Far Side Borderland Landing Site

Edge of Mare Moscoviense. Image width is 1.4 km

Samuel Lawrence
LROC News System

Mare Moscoviense is a one of the many places on the lunar surface that lunar scientists want to visit. The lunar farside is quite different from the nearside; one of the bigger reasons why is that the mare basalt deposits so common on the nearside are few and far between on the farside. Since basalts form by partial melting of the lunar mantle, sampling Moscoviense basalts would provide lunar scientists with vital insights into how the lunar mantle on the farside differs from the nearside mantle, which in turn would help us to learn why mare basalts are so much rarer on the farside.

For these reasons, Moscoviense is one of the sites identified by NASA's Project Constellation as an important site for possible future human lunar exploration. This LROC NAC image shows the view of a region several kilometers south of the proposed Exploration site, including a boundary between the mare basalts in southern Mare Moscoviense and the surrounding farside highlands. The white arrows show the location of a "bathtub ring" indicating the level that the original lavas reached as the Moscoviense basin fillled with lava. As time progressed, the erupted lavas gradually drained out of the basin, eventually solidifying at the current lower level. Human exploration of this area in particular would provide contextualized samples of the Moscoviense basalts and samples of the surrounding highlands materials, providing key and otherwise unavailable insights into the geologic history of this region.

(Browse the whole NAC image.)

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