Research Articles

Lunar Impact Basins and Crustal Heterogeneity: New Western Limb and Far Side Data from Galileo

Science  31 Jan 1992:
Vol. 255, Issue 5044, pp. 570-576
DOI: 10.1126/science.255.5044.570

Abstract

Multispectral images of the lunar western limb and far side obtained from Galileo reveal the compositional nature of several prominent lunar features and provide new information on lunar evolution. The data reveal that the ejecta from the Orientale impact basin (900 kilometers in diameter) lying outside the Cordillera Mountains was excavated from the crust, not the mantle, and covers pre-Orientale terrain that consisted of both highland materials and relatively large expanses of ancient mare basalts. The inside of the far side South Pole—Aitken basin (>2000 kilometers in diameter) has low albedo, red color, and a relatively high abundance of iron- and magnesium-rich materials. These features suggest that the impact may have penetrated into the deep crust or lunar mantle or that the basin contains ancient mare basalts that were later covered by highlands ejecta.