Lovely Lichtenberg B

Lichtenberg B
Lichtenberg B is a beautifully preserved young impact crater. Rock outcrops in the upper portion of the crater wall are due to the successive thin lava flows that filled Oceanus Procellarum more than 3 billion years ago. The crater is approximately 5 km in diameter, north is up, Sun is from the SSW [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

The lack of atmosphere on the Moon can have its benefits. For example, without an atmosphere, there are few processes to degrade landforms. On Earth, rain and wind are major causes of erosion, but on the Moon, those causes are absent. Erosion on the Moon is due to impacts that cause shaking and can demolish other craters during formation and to gravity pulling material downslope. In the case of Lichtenberg B, gravity has not yet rendered the crater smooth and subdued, and there are few impacts nearby, much less any that could have affected the morphology of the crater, as Lichtenberg B appears younger than its neighbors. On the downside, the lack of atmosphere means that space weathering is more efficient on the Moon, and fresh, highly reflective crater ejecta darkens over time. Because Lichtenberg B's ejecta deposit is still bright, it is quite young.

Lichtenberg Crater WAC Context Image
LRO WAC context image of Lichtenberg B. The red box denotes the full NAC mosaic from which Today's Featured Image (yellow box) was taken. Notice the wrinkled appearance of the ejecta deposit. Image is approximately 43 km across [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

Crisp morphology and a highly reflective ejecta deposit make Lichtenberg B stand out from many of the nearby impact craters. This exquisitely preserved crater is located to the northwest of Aristarchus Plateau in Oceanus Procellarum, a vast mare unit littered with impact craters and wrinkle ridges. The ejecta deposit is particularly interesting because it displays a wrinkled texture with structures that resemble dunes (See WAC context image above). How do these structures form? What makes Lichtenberg B's ejecta deposit different from other craters that lack these dune-like structures? It turns out that Lichtenberg B is not alone. Scientists have observed these same features at Linné Crater and are in the process of determining how they formed.

Check out the full NAC mosaic below!

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Lichtenberg Crater

Published by H. Meyer on 2 September 2014