Global Distribution of Large Lunar Craters: Implications for Resurfacing and Impactor Populations

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Science  17 Sep 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5998, pp. 1504-1507
DOI: 10.1126/science.1195050

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By using high-resolution altimetric measurements of the Moon, we produced a catalog of all impact craters ≥20 kilometers in diameter on the lunar surface and analyzed their distribution and population characteristics. The most-densely cratered portion of the highlands reached a state of saturation equilibrium. Large impact events, such as Orientale Basin, locally modified the prebasin crater population to ~2 basin radii from the basin center. Basins such as Imbrium, Orientale, and Nectaris, which are important stratigraphic markers in lunar history, are temporally distinguishable on the basis of crater statistics. The characteristics of pre- and postmare crater populations support the hypothesis that there were two populations of impactors in early solar system history and that the transition occurred near the time of the Orientale Basin event.

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