Boulders on asteroid Toutatis as observed by Chang'e-2.
ABSTRACT: Boulders are ubiquitously found on the surfaces of small rocky bodies in the inner solar system and their spatial and size distributions give insight into the geological evolution and collisional history of the parent bodies. Using images acquired by the Chang'e-2 spacecraft, more than 200 boulders have been identified over the imaged area of the near-Earth asteroid Toutatis. The cumulative boulder size frequency distribution (SFD) shows a steep slope of -4.4 ± 0.1, which is indicative of a high degree of fragmentation. Similar to Itokawa, Toutatis probably has a rubble-pile structure, as most boulders on its surface cannot solely be explained by impact cratering. The significantly steeper slope for Toutatis' boulder SFD compared to Itokawa may imply a different preservation state or diverse formation scenarios. In addition, the cumulative crater SFD has been used to estimate a surface crater retention age of approximately 1.6 ± 0.3 Gyr.
Project description:The Von Kármán Crater, within the South Pole-Aitken (SPA) Basin, is the landing site of China's Chang'E-4 mission. To complement the in situ exploration mission and provide initial subsurface interpretation, we applied a 3D density inversion using the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) gravity data. We constrain our inversion method using known geological and geophysical lunar parameters to reduce the non-uniqueness associated with gravity inversion. The 3D density models reveal vertical and lateral density variations, 2600-3200 kg/m3, assigned to the changing porosity beneath the Von Kármán Crater. We also identify two mass excess anomalies in the crust with a steep density contrast of 150 kg/m3, which were suggested to have been caused by multiple impact cratering. The anomalies from recovered near surface density models, together with the gravity derivative maps extending to the lower crust, are consistent with surface geological manifestation of excavated mantle materials from remote sensing studies. Therefore, we suggest that the density distribution of the Von Kármán Crater indicates multiple episodes of impact cratering that resulted in formation and destruction of ancient craters, with crustal reworking and excavation of mantle materials.
Project description:On 3 January 2019, China's Chang'E-4 (CE-4) successfully landed on the eastern floor of Von Kármán crater within the South Pole-Aitken Basin, becoming the first spacecraft in history to land on the Moon's farside. Here, we report the observations made by the Lunar Penetrating Radar (LPR) onboard the Yutu-2 rover during the first two lunar days. We found a signal penetration at the CE-4 landing site that is much greater than that at the CE-3 site. The CE-4 LPR images provide clear information about the structure of the subsurface, which is primarily made of low-loss, highly porous, granular materials with embedded boulders of different sizes; the images also indicate that the top of the mare basal layer should be deeper than 40 m. These results represent the first high-resolution image of a lunar ejecta sequence ever produced and the first direct measurement of its thickness and internal architecture.
Project description:Thermal inertia and surface roughness are proxies for the physical characteristics of planetary surfaces. Global maps of these two properties distinguish the boulder population on near-Earth asteroid (NEA) (101955) Bennu into two types that differ in strength, and both have lower thermal inertia than expected for boulders and meteorites. Neither has strongly temperature-dependent thermal properties. The weaker boulder type probably would not survive atmospheric entry and thus may not be represented in the meteorite collection. The maps also show a high-thermal inertia band at Bennu's equator, which might be explained by processes such as compaction or strength sorting during mass movement, but these explanations are not wholly consistent with other data. Our findings imply that other C-complex NEAs likely have boulders similar to those on Bennu rather than finer-particulate regoliths. A tentative correlation between albedo and thermal inertia of C-complex NEAs may be due to relative abundances of boulder types.
Project description:On 13 December 2012, Chang'e-2 conducted a successful flyby of the near-Earth asteroid 4179 Toutatis at a closest distance of 770 ± 120 meters from the asteroid's surface. The highest-resolution image, with a resolution of better than 3 meters, reveals new discoveries on the asteroid, e.g., a giant basin at the big end, a sharply perpendicular silhouette near the neck region, and direct evidence of boulders and regolith, which suggests that Toutatis may bear a rubble-pile structure. Toutatis' maximum physical length and width are (4.75 × 1.95?km) ±10%, respectively, and the direction of the +z axis is estimated to be (250 ± 5°, 63 ± 5°) with respect to the J2000 ecliptic coordinate system. The bifurcated configuration is indicative of a contact binary origin for Toutatis, which is composed of two lobes (head and body). Chang'e-2 observations have significantly improved our understanding of the characteristics, formation, and evolution of asteroids in general.
Project description:As global climate warms and sea level rises, coastal areas will be subject to more frequent extreme flooding and hurricanes. Geologic evidence for extreme coastal storms during past warm periods has the potential to provide fundamental insights into their future intensity. Recent studies argue that during the Last Interglacial (MIS 5e, ?128-116 ka) tropical and extratropical North Atlantic cyclones may have been more intense than at present, and may have produced waves larger than those observed historically. Such strong swells are inferred to have created a number of geologic features that can be observed today along the coastlines of Bermuda and the Bahamas. In this paper, we investigate the most iconic among these features: massive boulders atop a cliff in North Eleuthera, Bahamas. We combine geologic field surveys, wave models, and boulder transport equations to test the hypothesis that such boulders must have been emplaced by storms of greater-than-historical intensity. By contrast, our results suggest that with the higher relative sea level (RSL) estimated for the Bahamas during MIS 5e, boulders of this size could have been transported by waves generated by storms of historical intensity. Thus, while the megaboulders of Eleuthera cannot be used as geologic proof for past "superstorms," they do show that with rising sea levels, cliffs and coastal barriers will be subject to significantly greater erosional energy, even without changes in storm intensity.
Project description:Impact craters, which can be considered the lunar equivalent of fossils, are the most dominant lunar surface features and record the history of the Solar System. We address the problem of automatic crater detection and age estimation. From initially small numbers of recognized craters and dated craters, i.e., 7895 and 1411, respectively, we progressively identify new craters and estimate their ages with Chang'E data and stratigraphic information by transfer learning using deep neural networks. This results in the identification of 109,956 new craters, which is more than a dozen times greater than the initial number of recognized craters. The formation systems of 18,996 newly detected craters larger than 8?km are estimated. Here, a new lunar crater database for the mid- and low-latitude regions of the Moon is derived and distributed to the planetary community together with the related data analysis.
Project description:Typhoons and associated storm waves in the northwestern Pacific Ocean commonly cause coastal disasters. The possibility remains that an even stronger typhoon than the strongest one observed to date might have occurred before. The development of a method to estimate a maximum intensity of past typhoons over thousands of years is important for paleoclimatology, paleoceanography and disaster prevention. Numerous storm wave boulders exist on reefs in the Ryukyu Islands, Japan, which have been deposited to their present position by the cumulative effects of the past storm waves. These boulders can be used as proxies for the hydrodynamic conditions of the largest waves from past events. Here, we present numerical computations for storm waves and boulder transport with the boulder distribution as a constraint factor to estimate the maximum intensities of storm waves and their causative typhoon events over the past 3500 years. Though the intensities of the maximum estimated waves and associated typhoon events were slightly stronger than those recorded over the past ~70 years in the Ryukyu Islands, our results suggest that no abnormally intense typhoon has struck the Ryukyu Islands in the past 3500 years. The potential impact from tsunamis remains uncertain; however, our results are meteorologically reasonable.
Project description:KREEP materials were thought to be last crystallized at the lunar crust and mantle boundary. Impact cratering and volcanism are mainly responsible for their distributions on the lunar surface. Therefore, observation of global KREEP materials and investigation of distributions in the areas of large basins are of critical importance to understand the geologic history of the Moon. Here we report the new global potassium distribution on the Moon detected by Chang'E-2 Gamma-ray Spectrometer. We found that our new measurements are in general agreement with previous observation. A new finding and an important difference is that relatively higher K abundances in the Mare Crisium and Mare Orientale than their surrounding rims were detected for the first time. In light of our observations in these two areas, we propose that Crisium and Orientale basin-forming impact events may have penetrated to the lower crust and excavate the deeper materials to the lunar surface.
Project description:The chemical compositions of relatively young mare lava flows have implications for the late volcanism on the Moon. Here we report the composition of soil along the rim of a 450-m diameter fresh crater at the Chang'e-3 (CE-3) landing site, investigated by the Yutu rover with in situ APXS (Active Particle-induced X-ray Spectrometer) and VNIS (Visible and Near-infrared Imaging Spectrometer) measurements. Results indicate that this region's composition differs from other mare sample-return sites and is a new type of mare basalt not previously sampled, but consistent with remote sensing. The CE-3 regolith derived from olivine-normative basaltic rocks with high FeO/(FeO+MgO). Deconvolution of the VNIS data indicates abundant high-Ca ferropyroxene (augite and pigeonite) plus Fe-rich olivine. We infer from the regolith composition that the basaltic source rocks formed during late-stage magma-ocean differentiation when dense ferropyroxene-ilmenite cumulates sank and mixed with deeper, relatively ferroan olivine and orthopyroxene in a hybridized mantle source.
Project description:Human modification of natural landscapes has influenced surface processes in many settings on Earth. Quantitative data comparing the distribution and behavior of geologic phenomena before and after human arrival are sparse but urgently required to evaluate possible anthropogenic influences on geologic hazards. We conduct field and imagery-based mapping, statistical analysis, and numerical modeling of rockfall boulders triggered by the fatal 2011 Christchurch earthquakes (n = 285) and newly identified prehistoric (Holocene and Pleistocene) boulders (n = 1049). Prehistoric and modern boulders are lithologically equivalent, derived from the same source cliff, and yield consistent power-law frequency-volume distributions. However, a significant population of modern boulders (n = 26) traveled farther downslope (>150 m) than their most-traveled prehistoric counterparts, causing extensive damage to residential dwellings at the foot of the hillslope. Replication of prehistoric boulder distributions using three-dimensional rigid-body numerical models that incorporate lidar-derived digital topography and realistic boulder trajectories and volumes requires the application of a drag coefficient, attributed to moderate to dense slope vegetation, to account for their spatial distribution. Incorporating a spatially variable native forest into the models successfully predicts prehistoric rockfall distributions. Radiocarbon dating provides evidence for 17th to early 20th century deforestation at the study site during Polynesian and European colonization and after emplacement of prehistoric rockfall. Anthropocene deforestation enabled modern rockfalls to exceed the limits of their prehistoric predecessors, highlighting a shift in the geologic expression of rockfalls due to anthropogenic activity. Reforestation of hillslopes by mature native vegetation could help reduce future rockfall hazard.