Clementine Observations of the Aristarchus Region of the Moon

Science  16 Dec 1994:
Vol. 266, Issue 5192, pp. 1858-1862
DOI: 10.1126/science.266.5192.1858


Multispectral and topographic data acquired by the Clementine spacecraft provide information on the composition and geologic history of the Aristarchus region of the moon. Altimetry profiles show the Aristarchus plateau dipping about 1° to the north-northwest and rising about 2 kilometers above the surrounding lavas of Oceanus Procellarum to the south. Dark, reddish pyroclastic glass covers the plateau to average depths of 10 to 30 meters, as determined from the estimated excavation depths of 100- to 1000-meter-diameter craters that have exposed materials below the pyroclastics. These craters and the walls of sinuous rilles also show that mare basalts underlie the pyroclastics across much of the plateau. Near-infrared images of Aristarchus crater reveal olivine-rich materials and two kilometer-sized outcrops of anorthosite in the central peaks. The anorthosite could be either a derivative of local magnesium-suite magmatism or a remnant of the ferroan anorthosite crust that formed over the primordial magma ocean.