Hawke Crater

Hawke crater
Hawke crater, 13.2 km wide, is noticeably tilted because the impactor - an asteroid or a comet - that excavated it struck the sloping inner wall of Grotrian crater. Visible are light-colored rays that attest to the crater's youth, as well as subtle signs of darker impact melt. Image width is about 20 km, -66.61 lat, 128.65 lon. Image number M1258054744. [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University]

The International Astronomical Union (IAU), the organization tasked since 1919 with bringing order to astronomical chaos, reviews the names proposed for features in the Solar System. Names must follow established themes. On the Moon, craters are mostly named for lunar scientists, physicists, and astronomers. For example, William Herschel, who discovered Uranus and coined the term "asteroid," has a crater, as does his sister and research partner Caroline Herschel, who discovered eight comets. There are craters named for Albert Einstein, Johannes Kepler, Nicolaus Copernicus, Max Planck, Aristarchus, and many other famous scientists.

Living scientists are not commemorated on the Moon. Before a scientist’s name can be applied to a crater, she or he must have been deceased for at least two years. This permits a period of calm reflection, during which the community of scientists can consider whether their colleague deserves a place among the immortals. 

In the case of Dr. B. Ray Hawke, who passed away on 24 January 2015, there was no debate about whether a lunar crater should be named for him. B. Ray, as he was known to his many friends, specialized in everything lunar. He was a member of the LROC team and performed lunar remote sensing using Earth-based telescopes. Just as important, he tirelessly mentored lunar scientists as they began and built their careers and dedicated himself to the distribution of lunar data.

The IAU announced on 16 March 2018 that it had approved the name Hawke for a 13.2-kilometer diameter crater on the lunar farside. Hawke crater, blasted in the rim of Grotrian crater on the ejecta blanket of the vast and ancient Schrödinger basin, displays obvious signs of impact melt and bright rays, lunar features of great interest to Dr. Hawke. Schrödinger basin includes halo craters. These are places where impacts have excavated ancient, buried volcanic deposits known as cryptomare, another subject of B. Ray’s wide-ranging research.

Below you can explore the geologically complex region adjacent to Hawke crater. You can also learn more about B. Ray’s research interests by looking at a sampling of his many papers. Don’t be intimidated by their titles and terminology – that’s the last thing B. Ray would have wanted.

Hawke is the bright ray crater near the center of this image. As seen in the oblique image at the top of this post, Hawke crater is embedded in the southern rim of 37-kilometer-wide Grotrian crater. Impact in Grotrian's southern rim complicated and interrupted the pattern of Hawke's rays, some of which are visible as faint light streaks starting at Grotrian's north rim. Streaks of dark impact melt cover part of Hawke's north flank. Color WAC image (Red = 689 nm, Green = 556 nm, Blue = 415 nm) above displays an enlarged part of the context image below [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].
Context image of the region adjacent to Hawke crater. Hawke is the brightest crater in the top half of this image. South of Hawke is part of the north rim and floor of the 312-kilometer-wide Schrödinger Basin; latitude grid increments 5° (~150 km), longitude 15° [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

A Sampling of Dr. B. Ray Hawke's Many Lunar Papers

1977:  Impact melt on lunar crater rims

1977: Pre-Imbrian history of the Fra Mauro region and Apollo 14 sample provenance

1979: Multispectral mapping of the Apollo 15-Apennine region: The identification and distribution of regional pyroclastic deposits

1985: The origin of selected lunar geochemical anomalies: Implications for early volcanism and the formation of the light plains

1989: A remote-sensing and geologic investigation of the Crüger region of the Moon

1989: Remote sensing and geologic studies of localized dark mantle deposits on the Moon

1991: Remote sensing studies of the Orientale region of the Moon: A pre-Galileo view

1993: Remote sensing studies of the terrain northwest of the Humorum basin

1999: The composition and origin of selected lunar crater rays

2002: Igneous activity in the southern highlands of the Moon

2003: Distribution and modes of occurrence of lunar anorthosite

2003: Hansteen Alpha: A volcanic construct in the lunar highlands

2004: The origin of lunar crater rays

2005: Remote sensing and geologic studies of the Balmer-Kapteyn region of the Moon

2011: Hansteen Alpha: A silicic volcanic construct on the Moon

2012: The geology and composition of Hansteen Alpha

2015: Cryptomare, lava lakes, and pyroclastic deposits in the Gassendi region of the Moon: Final results


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Published by David Portree on 3 May 2018