NASA Offers New View of Lunar Crater


Any way you look at the moon, it's hard not to be captivated by it — craters, rilles, maria, even defunct space probes hanging out on the surface. What's not to love?

Well, NASA's got something new for the geo-geeks in the house: a bedrock geologic map of Schrodinger Basin, a giant crater near the moon's south pole that formed from a collision with a space rock 21-25 miles in diameter. Behold:

NASA decodes all of the awesome on its website, but here's a quick rundown: this is a peak-ring impact basin, literally a violent splash of rock in which the interior of the crater (the light brown, fragmented ring) has rebounded from the force of the impact and frozen as an area of uplifted lunar crust.

The green areas are huge swaths of melted material, while the black lines running through them are fractures formed as the whole hot mess cooled. Later on, smaller objects slammed into the crater and created their own mini-areas of devastation, highlighted here in yellow.

Finally, one of the things that makes Schrodinger interesting are the red and beige patches: evidence of some of the most recent volcanic activity near the moon's south pole. The beige are lava flows, while the red — the youngest rocks pictured here — are deposits from explosive eruptions.

If you find this kind of stuff cool, but are new to geologic maps in general, they will change the way you look at a place, whether it's your favorite slice of Earth's surface, the moon, or…someplace a little further afield.

Image: NASA

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