First look by the Yutu-2 rover at the deep subsurface structure at the lunar farside.
ABSTRACT: The unequal distribution of volcanic products between the Earth-facing lunar side and the farside is the result of a complex thermal history. To help unravel the dichotomy, for the first time a lunar landing mission (Chang'e-4, CE-4) has targeted the Moon's farside landing on the floor of Von Kármán crater (VK) inside the South Pole-Aitken (SPA). We present the first deep subsurface stratigraphic structure based on data collected by the ground-penetrating radar (GPR) onboard the Yutu-2 rover during the initial nine months exploration phase. The radargram reveals several strata interfaces beneath the surveying path: buried ejecta is overlaid by at least four layers of distinct lava flows that probably occurred during the Imbrium Epoch, with thicknesses ranging from 12?m up to about 100?m, providing direct evidence of multiple lava-infilling events that occurred within the VK crater. The average loss tangent of mare basalts is estimated at 0.0040-0.0061.
Project description:Chang'E-4 (CE-4) was the first mission to accomplish the goal of a successful soft landing on the lunar farside. The landing trajectory and the location of the landing site can be effectively reconstructed and determined using series of images obtained during descent when there were no Earth-based radio tracking and the telemetry data. Here we reconstructed the powered descent trajectory of CE-4 using photogrammetrically processed images of the CE-4 landing camera, navigation camera, and terrain data of Chang'E-2. We confirmed that the precise location of the landing site is 177.5991°E, 45.4446°S with an elevation of -5935?m. The landing location was accurately identified with lunar imagery and terrain data with spatial resolutions of 7?m/p, 5?m/p, 1?m/p, 10?cm/p and 5?cm/p. These results will provide geodetic data for the study of lunar control points, high-precision lunar mapping, and subsequent lunar exploration, such as by the Yutu-2 rover.
Project description:We report the surface exploration by the lunar rover Yutu that landed on the young lava flow in the northeastern part of the Mare Imbrium, which is the largest basin on the nearside of the Moon and is filled with several basalt units estimated to date from 3.5 to 2.0 Ga. The onboard lunar penetrating radar conducted a 114-m-long profile, which measured a thickness of ?5 m of the lunar regolith layer and detected three underlying basalt units at depths of 195, 215, and 345 m. The radar measurements suggest underestimation of the global lunar regolith thickness by other methods and reveal a vast volume of the last volcano eruption. The in situ spectral reflectance and elemental analysis of the lunar soil at the landing site suggest that the young basalt could be derived from an ilmenite-rich mantle reservoir and then assimilated by 10-20% of the last residual melt of the lunar magma ocean.
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:We report on the mineralogical and chemical properties of materials investigated by the lunar rover Yutu-2, which landed on the Von Kármán crater in the pre-Nectarian South Pole-Aitken (SPA) basin. Yutu-2 carried several scientific payloads, including the Visible and Near-infrared Imaging Spectrometer (VNIS), which is used for mineral identification, offering insights into lunar evolution. We used 86 valid VNIS data for 21 lunar days, with mineral abundance obtained using the Hapke radiative transfer model and sparse unmixing algorithm and chemical compositions empirically estimated. The mineralogical properties of the materials at the Chang'E-4 (CE-4) site referred to as norite/gabbro, based on findings of mineral abundance, indicate that they may be SPA impact melt components excavated by a surrounding impact crater. We find that CE-4 materials are dominated by plagioclase and pyroxene and feature little olivine, with 50 of 86 observations showing higher LCP than HCP in pyroxene. In view of the effects of space weathering, olivine content may be underestimated, with FeO and TiO<sub>2</sub> content estimated using the maturity-corrected method. Estimates of chemical content are 7.42-18.82 wt% FeO and 1.48-2.1 wt% TiO<sub>2</sub>, with a low-medium Mg number (Mg # ~ 55). Olivine-rich materials are not present at the CE-4 landing site, based on the low-medium Mg #. Multi-origin materials at the CE-4 landing site were analyzed with regard to concentrations of FeO and TiO<sub>2</sub> content, supporting our conclusion that the materials at CE-4 do not have a single source but rather are likely a mixture of SPA impact melt components excavated by surrounding impact crater and volcanic product ejecta.
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: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:The Schrödinger basin on the lunar farside is ?320?km in diameter and the best-preserved peak-ring basin of its size in the Earth-Moon system. Here we present spectral and photogeologic analyses of data from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper instrument on the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) on the LRO spacecraft, which indicates the peak ring is composed of anorthositic, noritic and troctolitic lithologies that were juxtaposed by several cross-cutting faults during peak-ring formation. Hydrocode simulations indicate the lithologies were uplifted from depths up to 30?km, representing the crust of the lunar farside. Through combining geological and remote-sensing observations with numerical modelling, we show that a Displaced Structural Uplift model is best for peak rings, including that in the K-T Chicxulub impact crater on Earth. These results may help guide sample selection in lunar sample return missions that are being studied for the multi-agency International Space Exploration Coordination Group.
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:Aeolian processes have likely been the predominant geomorphic agent for most of Mars' history and have the potential to produce relatively young exposure ages for geologic units. Thus, identifying local evidence for aeolian erosion is highly relevant to the selection of landing sites for future missions, such as the Mars 2020 Rover mission that aims to explore astrobiologically relevant ancient environments. Here we investigate wind-driven activity at eight Mars 2020 candidate-landing sites to constrain erosion potential at these locations. To demonstrate our methods, we found that contemporary dune-derived abrasion rates were in agreement with rover-derived exhumation rates at Gale crater and could be employed elsewhere. The Holden crater candidate site was interpreted to have low contemporary erosion rates, based on the presence of a thick sand coverage of static ripples. Active ripples at the Eberswalde and southwest Melas sites may account for local erosion and the dearth of small craters. Moderate-flux regional dunes near Mawrth Vallis were deemed unrepresentative of the candidate site, which is interpreted to currently be experiencing low levels of erosion. The Nili Fossae site displayed the most unambiguous evidence for local sand transport and erosion, likely yielding relatively young exposure ages. The downselected Jezero crater and northeast Syrtis sites had high-flux neighboring dunes and exhibited substantial evidence for sediment pathways across their ellipses. Both sites had relatively high estimated abrasion rates, which would yield young exposure ages. The downselected Columbia Hills site lacked evidence for sand movement, and contemporary local erosion rates are estimated to be relatively low.
Project description:Concentrations of highly siderophile elements (HSE) and <sup>187</sup>Os/<sup>188</sup>Os isotopic compositions for eleven impact related rocks from the Apollo 15 and 16 landing sites are reported and combined with existing geochronological data to investigate the chemical nature and temporal changes in the large impactors implicated in the formation of the lunar basins. Data for the samples all define linear trends on plots of HSE versus Ir concentrations, whose slopes likely reflect the relative HSE compositions of the dominant impactors that formed the rocks. The inferred Imbrium basin impactor that generated Apollo 15 impact melt rocks 15445 and 15455 was characterized by modestly suprachondritic <sup>187</sup>Os/<sup>188</sup>Os, Ru/Ir, Pt/Ir and Pd/Ir ratios. Diverse impactor components are revealed in the Apollo 16 impact melt rocks. The <sup>187</sup>Os/<sup>188</sup>Os and HSE/Ir ratios of the impactor components in melt rocks 60635, 63595 and 68416, with reported ages < 3.84 Ga, are within the range of chondritic meteorites, but slightly higher than ratios characterizing previously studied granulitic impactites with reported ages > 4.0 Ga. By contrast, the impactor components in melt rocks 60235, 62295 and 67095, with reported ages of ~3.9 Ga, are characterized by suprachondritic <sup>187</sup>Os/<sup>188</sup>Os and HSE/Ir ratios similar to the Apollo 15 impact melt rocks, and may also sample the Imbrium impactor. Three lithic clasts from regolith breccias 60016 and 65095, also with ~3.9 Ga ages, contain multiple impactor components, of which the dominant composition is considerably more suprachondritic than those implicated for Imbrium and Serenitatis (Apollo 17) impactors. The dominant composition recorded in these rocks was most likely inherited from a pre-Imbrium impactor. Consideration of composition versus age relations among lunar impact melt rocks reveals no discernable trend. Virtually all lunar impact melt rocks sampled by the Apollo missions, as well as meteorites, are characterized by <sup>187</sup>Os/<sup>188</sup>Os and HSE/Ir ratios that, when collectively plotted, define linear trends ranging from chondritic to fractionated compositions. The impact melt rocks with HSE signatures within the range of chondritic meteorites are interpreted to have been derived from impactors that had HSE compositions similar to known chondrite groups. By contrast, the impact melt rocks with non-chondritic relative HSE concentrations could not have been made by mixing of known chondritic impactors. These signatures may instead reflect contributions from early solar system bodies with bulk chemical compositions that have not yet been sampled by primitive meteorites present in our collections. Alternately, they may reflect the preferential incorporation of evolved metal separated from a fractionated planetesimal core. Pre-3.9 Ga ages for at least some impactor components with both chondritic and fractionated HSE raise the possibility that the bulk of the HSE were added to the lunar crust prior to the later-stage basin-forming impacts, such as Imbrium and Serenitatis, as proposed by Fischer-Gödde and Becker (2012). For this scenario, the later-stage basin-forming impacts were more important with respect to mixing prior impactor components into melt rocks, rather than contributing much to the HSE budgets of the rocks themselves.