Crater studies: Part A: lunar crater morphometry




Morphometry, the quantitative study of shape, complements the visual observation and photointerpretation in analyzing the most outstanding landforms of the Moon, its craters (refs. 32-1 and 32-2). All three of these interpretative tools, which were developed throughout the long history of telescopic lunar study preceding the Apollo Program, will continue to be applicable to crater analysis until detailed field work becomes possible. Although no large (>17.5 km diameter) craters were examined in situ on any of the Apollo landings, the photographs acquired from the command modules will markedly strengthen results of less direct investigations of the craters. For morphometry, the most useful materials are the orbital metric and panoramic photographs from the final three Apollo missions. These photographs permit preparation of contour maps, topographic profiles, and other numerical data that accurately portray for the first time the surface geometry of lunar craters of all sizes. Interpretations of craters no longer need be compromised by inadequate topographic data. In the pre-Apollo era, hypotheses for the genesis of lunar craters usually were constructed without any numerical descriptive data. Such speculations will have little credibility unless supported by accurate, quantitative data, especially those generated from Apollo orbital photographs. This paper presents a general study of the surface geometry of 25 far-side craters and a more detailed study of rim-crest evenness for 15 near-side and far-side craters. Analysis of this preliminary sample of Apollo 15 and 17 data, which includes craters between 1.5 and 275 km in diameter, suggests that most genetic interpretations of craters made from pre-Apollo topographic measurements may require no drastic revision. All measurements were made from topographic profiles generated on a stereoplotter at the Photogrammetric Unit of the U.S. Geological Survey, Center of Astrogeology, Flagstaff, Arizona.

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Book chapter
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Book Chapter
Crater studies: Part A: lunar crater morphometry
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National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Publisher location:
Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s):
Astrogeology Science Center
7 p.
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Federal Government Series
Larger Work Title:
Apollo 17 preliminary science report (NASA SP-330)
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