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Lunar Impact Basins

Schrödinger Basin

Transregional Collaborative Research Center TRR 170: Late Accretion onto Terrestrial Planets

Lunar impact basins are the oldest and most prominent landmarks on the Moon. They are the only remnants of the late heavy bombardment and represent a basis for understanding the early evolution of the terrestrial planets. In order to better constrain the mass, distribution, and timing of the late accretion flux, the morphological features, as well as the gravitational signature of the impact basins will be investigated in detail.

Former studies of the impact basin characteristics, such as ring diameters, center point positions or depths were based on data, which were limited in resolution and accuracy. With the most recent data from current missions, characteristics of each basin can be revised. Using Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) data from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), we will map the topography for each basin candidate. Since older basins are often highly degenerated either through superposed craters or mare fill, evoked by former volcanic activities, the gravitational signature depicts an important feature for recognizing single basins and their individual characteristics. We will use high-resolution Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) measurements for calculating Bouguer gravity anomalies. The anomalies will be mapped to the same reference frame as the topographical data, which allows us to compare the topographic features with the gravitational signature of individual basins.

Main objective of our work is the itemization of a full lunar basin inventory with revised characteristics of each candidate. For estimating the certainty of a lunar impact basin, a correlation algorithm will be developed, giving a numerical value for the confidence level, at which a basin is identified. For confirmed basins, we will make new measurements and produce a catalogue involving geographic coordinates, number of rings and their diameters, and depths of the basin floors. In order to perform measurements independent from visual judgements, an algorithm will be developed, comparing a reference basin topography and gravity field model with the basin candidates. Furthermore, in collaboration with our companion projects A3 and A4, we will determine relative ages of all identified basins using crater statistics on basin floors and ejecta blankets, improved age standards for lunar samples as well as the basins degradation state, obtained from topography and the gravitational signature.

The project Late Accretion onto Terrestrial Planets (TRR 170) is a transregional Collaborative Research Center located in Berlin and Münster (Germany), founded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). The participating institutions are Freie Universität Berlin (FUB), Technische Universität Berlin (TUB), Westfälische Wilhelms Universität-Münster (WWU), Museum für Naturkunde - Institut für Evolutions- und Biodiversitätsforschung, Berlin (MfN), and Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt Berlin (DLR).

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Prof. Jürgen Oberst
+49 30 314-79701
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