Samples from small, relatively fresh craters like the one above may someday help us learn more about Mare Frigoris and its place in lunar geologic history. Mare Frigoris is located on the lunar nearside, to the north of the Imbrium and Serenitatis basins. Instead of being low in reflectance like typical mare basalts, its reflectance is intermediate between the mare to the south and highlands terrain to the north. This is likely due to a lower iron and titanium content than any of the sampled mare basalts, making it an intriguing end-member in the spectrum of lunar mare volcanism.
Portions of Mare Frigoris, like the area near the Constellation region of interest outlined below, are so high in reflectance they're considered "light plains." Light plains can form in several different ways: through volcanism, with a composition even lower in iron and titanium; as the result of impact basin ejecta, which acts as a fluid, filling in topographic lows; or as ancient volcanic plains that were subsequently covered with a thin layer of highlands material ejected from nearby craters or basins which masks the true basaltic surface (a hidden, or "cryptomare"). Small craters like the one above excavate material from below the surface, and can help discern whether or not the material there is distinct in composition (as would be expected for cryptomare). Sampling this material would provide a definitive resolution to the geologic history of this fascinating region.
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Posted by Brett Denevi on May 06, 2010 08:00 UTC.