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Kaguya and the Lunar Magma Ocean

15 Sep 2009, 02:35 UTC
Kaguya and the Lunar Magma Ocean JAXA/SELENE
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Color Me Anorthosite - Lunar Picture of the Day (LPOD), Sept. 13, 2009 (Chuck Wood) The Japanese lunar orbiter Kaguya is gone, but great science keeps coming from its data. These images show the global distribution of lunar craters whose central peaks are enriched in anorthosite. ... Central peaks are studied because they bring up material from 3-30 kilometers beneath the surface. The importance of anorthosite is that it is believed to have formed in the magma ocean at the tail end of the Moon's accretion. As a low density mineral it floated to the surface as a scum and presumably remains there, except where penetrated by later impacts or covered by mare lavas or megaregolith. ... The detailed image ... shows the central peak of the farside crater Jackson, revealing high resolution mapping on a 3-D perspective of the distribution of anorthosite in the peak. An intriguing observation - already known from terrestrial work - is that Aristarchus is anorthosite-rich, suggesting it is underying primordial magma ocean crust.This has been offered as strong evidence against the existence of the putative Gargantuan Basin (that covers more than half the nearside, and may be centered northwest of Mare Tranquillitatis), because the ...

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