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A young multilayered terrane of the northern Mare Imbrium revealed by Chang’E-3 mission

Science  13 Mar 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6227, pp. 1226-1229
DOI: 10.1126/science.1259866

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Onsite radar shows what lies beneath

In more active periods of the Moon's history, volcanic eruptions created lava plains that formed layers of dark basalt. Without subsurface probing, we can only examine the most recent flows. After the soft landing of the Chang'E-3 spacecraft, Xiao et al. made penetrating radar measurements of the lunar crust with the Yutu rover. Several subsurface layers suggest multiple geologic processes at play throughout the crustal history, including multiple lava flows and the weathering-induced creation of dust and rocky debris.

Science, this issue p. 1226

Abstract

China’s Chang’E-3 (CE-3) spacecraft touched down on the northern Mare Imbrium of the lunar nearside (340.49°E, 44.12°N), a region not directly sampled before. We report preliminary results with data from the CE-3 lander descent camera and from the Yutu rover’s camera and penetrating radar. After the landing at a young 450-meter crater rim, the Yutu rover drove 114 meters on the ejecta blanket and photographed the rough surface and the excavated boulders. The boulder contains a substantial amount of crystals, which are most likely plagioclase and/or other mafic silicate mineral aggregates similar to terrestrial dolerite. The Lunar Penetrating Radar detection and integrated geological interpretation have identified more than nine subsurface layers, suggesting that this region has experienced complex geological processes since the Imbrian and is compositionally distinct from the Apollo and Luna landing sites.

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