Tuesday, May 17, 2022

This new lunar map help guide future exploration missions

A new map including rover paths of the Schrödinger basin.

After identifying significant geologic features of the Schrödinger basin-located near the lunar south pole- a team of interns at the Lunar and Planetary Institute have created a new lunar map that could guide astronomers in future exploration missions. 

Schrödinger basin, the second-youngest impact basin on the moon, is located near the lunar south pole. It has several crustal features and rock types that are important to understanding the moon’s geological history. 

Along with this new map, scientists also created three potential paths for robotic rovers to travel through the Schrödinger basin to collect high-priority rock samples. 

Ellen Czaplinski, a U of A graduate student researcher at the Arkansas Center for Planetary Sciences, said“When the Schrödinger basin was formed, some of these lithologies (the general physical characteristics of the rocks) may have been uplifted from very deep below the lunar surface. Therefore, investigating these rocks up close is extremely important for answering high-priority science goals.” 

“Because the Schrödinger basin is located within the South Pole-Aitken basin, it presents a unique opportunity to study rocks that possibly originated deep below the surface.” 

“Many of these rock types are exposed at the surface in multi-kilometer long exposures of rock outcrops in Schrödinger’s ‘peak ring,’ an inner ring of uplifted rocks that formed with the basin. Sampling these rocks within the peak ring provides a high scientific potential for further understanding the context of Schrödinger’s lithologies.” 

Journal Reference:
  1. E. C. Czaplinski et al. Human-assisted Sample Return Mission at the Schrödinger Basin, Lunar Far Side, Using a New Geologic Map and Rover Traverses. DOI: 10.3847/PSJ/abdb34

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