37th DPS Meeting, 4-9 September 2005
Session 57 Moon, Mercury and Venus
Poster, Thursday, September 8, 2005, 6:00-7:15pm, Music Recital Room

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[57.07] Lunar Far Side Regolith Depth

G. D. Bart, H. J. Melosh (Univ. of Arizona)

The lunar far side contains the South Pole Aitken Basin, which is the largest known impact basin in the solar system, and is enhanced in titanium and iron compared to the rest of the lunar highlands. Although we have known of this enigmatic basin since the 60's, most lunar photography and science covered the equatorial near side where the Apollo spacecraft landed. With NASA's renewed interest in the Moon, the South Pole Aitken Basin is a likely target for future exploration. The regolith depth is a crucial measurement for understanding the source of the surface material in the Basin.

On the southern far side of the Moon (20 S, 180 W), near the north edge of the Basin, we determined the regolith depth by examining 11 flat-floored craters about 200 m in diameter. We measured the ratio of the diameter of the flat floor to the diameter of the crater, and used it to calculate the regolith thickness using the method of Quaide and Oberbeck (1968). We used Apollo 15 panoramic images --- still the highest resolution images available for this region of the Moon. We found the regolith depth at that location to be about 40 m. This value is significantly greater than values for the lunar near side: 3 m (Oceanus Procellarum), 16 m (Hipparchus), and 1-10 m at the Surveyor landing sites. The thicker value obtained for the far side regolith is consistent with the older age of the far side. It also suggests that samples returned from the far side may have originated from deeper beneath the surface than their near side counterparts.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #3
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.