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Mare Humorum Craters Tell Story Of Basalt

Image credit: ESA
by Staff Writers
Paris, France (SPX) Jul 12, 2006
This mosaic of three images, taken by the advanced Moon Imaging Experiment aboard ESA's SMART-1 spacecraft, shows Mare Humorum on the Moon. AMIE obtained the top frame on Jan. 1 from a distance of 1,087 kilometers (674 miles) from the surface, with a ground resolution of 98 meters (318 feet) per pixel.

The remaining two frames were taken on Jan. 13 from a distance of about 1,069 kilometers (663 miles) from the surface in the center image and 1,050 kilometers (650 miles) in the bottom image, with ground resolutions of 97 meters and 95 meters (315 feet and 309 feet) per pixel, respectively.

The area shown in the top image is centered at a lunar latitude of 40.2 degrees south and a longitude of 25.9 degrees west. The center image was taken at a latitude of 40.2 degrees south and 27.3 degrees west. The bottom image was taken at 40.2 degrees south and 28.8 degrees west.

Mare Humorum, or Sea of Moisture, is a small circular area on the lunar nearside, about 825 kilometers (510 miles) across. The mountains surrounding it mark the edge of an old impact basin that has been flooded and filled by mare lavas.

These lavas also extend past the basin rim in several places. In the upper right are several such flows which extend northwest into southern Oceanus Procellarum.

Mare Humorum was not sampled by the Apollo program, so its precise age has not yet been determined - although geologic mapping indicates its age falls between that of the Imbrium and the Nectaris basins, suggesting about 3.9 billion years, plus or minus 500 million years.

Humorum is filled with a thick layer of mare basalt, believed to exceed 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) in thickness at the center of the basin. On the north edge of Mare Humorum is the large crater Gassendi, which was considered as a possible landing site for Apollo 17.

Scientists think Mare Humorum is a scientifically interesting area because it allows the study of the relationships among lunar mare filling, mare basin tectonics, and global thermal evolution to the major mascon maria - regions of the lunar crust that contain a large amount of material denser than average for that area.

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