Friday, June 4, 2010

LOLA's Tranquility

Not really happy with the quality of the presentation the LOLA Image of the Week, May 28 - highlighting LRO laser altimetry from within the Sea of Tranquility - it was the height of presumption to take a stab at it ourselves. Nevertheless, weak as it may be, Tranquility is contrasted with a more 'typical' near side impact basin father east (above) within the multi-ringed Mare Crisium, for example, and Tranquillitatis hardly stands out in this false-color image, based on elevation alone. Tranquillitatis is a very old basin, inundated repeatedly and home today of some of the Moon's most optically mature mare regoliths. Some of the Moon's most iron and titanium-oxide (and Helium-3) "rich" surfaces are found under the landing site of Apollo 11 [NASA/GSFC/LOLA/CELESTIA].

LOLA/GSFC - May 28, 2010: The Sea of Tranquility has long captivated astronomers. Once thought to be an ocean on the Moon, its relatively smooth fields of basaltic lavas and equatorial position made it an ideal location for the first manned lunar landing. On July 20, 1969 Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left the first human footprints on the Moon near the southwestern shores of Mare Tranquillitatis.

Mare Tranquillitatis (approximately 873 km in diameter) lies in the Tranquillitatis basin (centered on 0.68 N, 23.43 E; extending, roughly, from 20.4 N-4.4 S, 15.0-45.9 E). This basin is thought to have been formed as a result of a very large impact in the Moon's early history, likely more than 3.9 million years ago. The crater was then flooded with mare basalts, making it appear dark when viewed from Earth, and making it smooth and relatively flat, as seen in LOLA data. There is only a little over a 500 meter elevation difference between the highest and lowest points within the mare, excluding overprinted craters. The mare has an irregular margin because several basins, including Serenitatis and Nectaris, intersect in this region. See if you can find other features surrounding Mare Tranquillitatis on a map of the Moon.

See the original LOLA presentation, HERE.

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