Being the largest basin (>2500 km in diameter) and presumably the oldest preserved impact structure on the Moon [e.g., 1], the South Pole-Aitken (SPA) basin is of particular interest. SPA might have penetrated the entire lunar crust and exposed lower crustal or upper mantle material, but despite its deep penetration, it did not reveal KREEP-rich rocks in contrast with the Imbrium basin. In addition, its age should shed light on the plausibility of the terminal cataclysm [e.g., 2]. To explain the large number of ~3.9 Ga impact ages documented in the Apollo and Luna sample collection, such a cataclysmic late heavy bombardment was proposed, for example, by . Should the age of the SPA basin be close to 4 Ga, this might support the lunar cataclysm hypothesis . However, the age of this basin is currently not well constrained. While we have some ancient lunar samples from the Apollo 16 and 17 landing sites in addition to the lunar meteorites Dhofar 489 and Yamato 86032, it is unclear whether these samples are really related to the SPA event or to some other impacts. The Apollo samples which clearly predate the local geology at these sites and the lunar farside meteorites have been interpreted to possibly indicate the formation of the SPA basin at 4.23 Ga . Using new data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) we performed detailed and systematic crater size-frequency distribution (CSFD) measurements of the entire SPA basin in order to derive relative and absolute model ages of the basin itself as well as several superposed impact structures, including the Planck, Oppenheimer, Schrödinger, and Apollo craters/basins.
European Planetary Science Congress 2012
- Pub Date:
- September 2012