doi:10.1038/nindia.2013.130 Published online 25 September 2013
By analysing satellite images, researchers have obtained new insights into the topography of craters on the Moon's surface that promise to improve our understanding of the geological history of the Moon and similar celestial bodies in the Solar System.
Impact craters are dominant surface features on many planetary bodies, including the Moon. Craters have a raised rim and depression, and their dimensions depend on the size and velocity of the impacting object. Previous studies have focused on complex craters with diameters larger than 15 km because they could be easy identified.
To gain new insights into the topography of simple craters (diameters smaller than 15 km), the researchers selected three regions on the Moon — Mare Imbrium, Sinus Iridum and Mare Serenitatis. They then analysed crater images captured by a Japanese satellite named Selenological and Engineering Explorer (SELENE).
They analysed 33 flat- and round-floored craters with diameters of approximately 2 km. The study found that the lunar surface recorded and preserved information about impact events, although some degradation has occurred over time. The data gained by the study will assist in identifying variations between different crater types.
"To date, all impact crater simulation studies have been carried out by considering the target surface to be flat. This study demonstrated that the target topography is not always flat and that it affects the final topography of the crater," says study co-author S. Vijayan.