Sei sulla pagina 1di 652

NASA SP-330

NATIONAL•AERONAUTICS AND SPACEADMINISTRATION

,,

_"_

APOLLO

17

PRELIMINARY

SCIENCE

REPORT

Apollo 17 command

and service module over the Taurus-Littrow

landing site.

_,_!_i¸

Preliminary

Science

NASA SP-330

Report

PREPARED BY LYNDON B. JOHNSON SPACE CENTER

I

Scientific and Technical

NATIONAL

AERONAUTICS

Information

O_ce AND

SPACE

ADMINISTRATION

Washington,

1973

D.C.

EDITORIAL

BOARD

The

material

submitted

for the

"Apollo

17 Preliminary

Science

Report"

was reviewed by a NASA Editorial

Review

Board

consisting

of

the

following

members:

Robert

A.

Parker

(Chairman),

Richard

R. Baldwin, Robin

Brett,

Jerry

D.

Fuller,

Robert

L. Giesecke,

John

B. Hanley,

David N.

Holman,

Robert

M. Mercer, Susan N. Montgomery,

Michael

J. Murphy,

and Scott H. Simpkinson.

Cover

Photographs:

Clockwise

from

upper

right:

 

(1)

The

command

and

service

module

 

scientific

instrument

module

bay

viewed

from

the

lunar

module.

(2) Photomicrograph

 

of

a

thin

section

of

the

orange

soil

sample

collected

at

Shorty

Crater.

(3)

Orange

soil

on

the

rim

of Shorty

Crater

with

the

gnomon

in the

background.

 

The

soil consists

of small

orange

 

glass

spheres

as shown

in

the

photomicrograph

above.

(4)

Large

breccia

boulder

sampled

near

the

base

of the North

Massif.

The

boulder

appears

to have

rolled

down

the

massif

and

broken

into

five

pieces.

The

lunar

roving

vehicle

is parked

 

to

the right

of the boulder.

 

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents,

U.S.

Government

Printing Office, Washington,

D.C.

20402

Price

$7.95

Library'

of

Congress

Catalog

Card

Number

73-600152

Stock

Number

3300_00523

 

Foreword

The character of the Apollo 17 mission to Taurus-Littrow was such that it invited superlatives. By almost all measures, it was an immensely successful voyage of

exploration: the greatest harvest of new scientific data, the most kilometers traveled on the surface of the Moon, the largest number of scientific experiments performed-both in

real time, by a scientist

left behind-the longest time spent on and around the Moon, and the greatest amount of lunar samples returned for study in laboratories all over the world. But numerical measures like these, pleasing though they may be to the thousands of us who had some connection with this mission, do not seem an adequate characterization of this sixth and last of the Apollo series of manned lunar landings. We cannot now be sure how history wilt assess this extraordinary enterprise. It may be

that, from the perspective

singular achievement

on the

surface,

and by automatic

instrumentation

installed

and

of decades,

the

Apollo

of man's

Program

scientific

will stand

out

as the most endeavor.

to date

in the history

and engineering

From this perspective,

seen

without

hubris,

it

may

be

seen

that

all

of

us

will be

remembered

for having

liw_d at the

time

of Apollo.

It

may be that,

in days to come,

Apollo will be perceived

as a threshold

for mankind

from the planet

Earth.

 

Dr. James C. Fletcher Administrator

National Aeronautics

and Space Administration

Contents

 

Page

INTRODUCTION

 

"

xiii

Anthony

J. Calio

 

1. APOLLO

17 SITE SELECTION

 

1-1

N.

W. Hinners

2. MISSION DESCRIPTION Richard R. Baldwin

 

2-1

3. SUMMARY

OF SCIENTIFIC

RESULTS

 

3-1

Robert

A. Parker

 

4. PHOTOGRAPHIC

SUMMARY

 

4-1

M. C. McEwen and Uel S. Clanton

 

APPENDIX.

NEAR-TERMINATOR

AND EARTHSHINE

PHOTOGRAPHY

4-33

James W. Head and Douglas I_loyd

 

5. A GEOLOGICAL

INVESTIGATION

OF THE TAURUS-LITTROW

VALLEY

5-1

Harrison 1-1.Schmitt

and Eugene A. Cernan

 

6. PRELIMINARY

GEOLOGIC

INVESTIGATION

OF THE APOLLO

17 LAND-

ING SITE

 

6-1

W.

R.

Muehlberger,

R.

M. Batson,

E.

A.

Cernan,

I

L. Freeman,

M. H.

Halt, H. E. Holt,

K. A. Howard,

E. D. Jackson, K. B. Larson,

V. S. Reed,

J.

J. Rennilson,

[-1. 11.

Schmitt,

 

D.

It.

Sco]t,

R.

L.

Sutton,

D.

Stuart-Alexander, and E. W. Wolfe

G. A. swarm,

iv.

J.

Trask, G. E. Ulrich,

H.

G. Wilshire,

7. PRELIMINARY

EXAlVI1NATION OF LUNAR SAMPLES

 

7-1

The Lunar Sample Preliminary

Examination

Team

8. SOIL MECHANICS

 

.

 

8-1

James K.

Mitchell,

W. David

, Carrier, III, Nicholas

C. Costes,

William N.

Houston,

Ronald

F. Scott,

and H. John Hovland

 

9. HEAT FLOW EXPERIMENT

 

9-1

Marcus G. Langseth,

Jr., Stephen

J. 'Keihm, and John L. Chute, Jr.

10. LUNAR SEISMIC PROFILING

EXPERIMENT

 

10-1

Robert

L. Kovach, Joel S. Watkins, and Pradeep Talwani

vii

viii

APOLLO

17 PRELIMINARY

SCIENCE REPORT

 

11.

PASSIVE SEISMIC EXPERIMENT

 

11-1

 

Gary

1I. Latham,

Maurice

Ewing,

Frank

Press,

James

Dorman,

Yosio

 

Nakamura,

Nafi

Toksoz,

Davis Lammlein,

Fred Duennebier,

and Anton

 
 

Dainty

12.

LUNAR

SURFACE

GRAVIMETER

EXPERIMENT

12-1

John J. Giganti, J. V. Larson, J. P. Richard,

and J. Weber

 

13.

TRAVERSE

GRAVIMETER

EXPERIMENT

 

13-1

 

Manik

Talwani,

George

Thompson,

Brian

Dent,

Hans-Gert

Kahle,

and

 

Sheldon

Buck

 

14.

S-BAND TRANSPONDER

EXPERIMENT

 

14-1

W.L. Sjogren,

W. R.

Wollenhaupt,

and R. N.

Wimberly

 

15.

SURFACE

ELECTRICAL

PROPERTIES

EXPERIMENT

15-1

Gene Simmons, David Strangway, Peter Annan, Richard Baker, Lawrence

Bannister, Raymon Brown, William Cooper, Dean Cubley, Joseph deBet-

teneourt, Anthony

W. England,

John

Groener,

Jin-Au

Kong,

GeraM

LaTorraea, James Meyer, Ved Nanda, David Redman, James Rossiter, Leung Tsang, Joseph Urner, and Raymond Watts

 

16.

LUNAR EJECTA

AND METEORITES

EXPERIMENT

 

16-1

O. E. Berg, F. F. Richardson,

and 1t. Burton

 

17.

LUNAR ATMOSPHERIC

COMPOSITION EXPERIMENT

 

17-1

J.

H. Hoffman,

R. R. Hodges, Jr., F. S. Johnson,

and D. E. Evans

18.

LUNAR

NEUTRON

PROBE

EXPERIMENT

18-1

Dorothy

S. Woolum, D. S. Burnett,

and C. A. Bauman

 

19.

COSMIC RAY EXPERIMENT

 

19-1

PART

A.

MEASUREMENTS

OF HEAVY

ENERGY

SOLAR PARTICLES

DURING

SOLAR WIND AND HIGHER THE APOLLO 17 MISSION

19-2

R.

M. Walker, E. Zinner,

and M. Maurette

PART

B. QUIET TIME ENERGY

SPECTRA OF HEAVY NUCLEI FROM 20

 

TO 400 keV/amu

 

19-11

R.

T. Woods, H. R. Hart, Jr., and R. L. Fleiseher

PART C. THE NATURE

OF INTERPLANETARY

HEAVY IONS WITH 0.1 <

 

E < 40 MeV/NUCLEON

 

19-15

P.

B. Price and J. H. Chan

20.

GAMMA

RAY

SPECTROMETER

EXPERIMENT,

NaI(T1)

DETECTOR

CRYSTAL

ACTIVATION

 

20-1

J.

L Trombka, R. L. Sehmadebeck, M. Bielefeld, G. D. O'Kelley, J.

S.

Eldridge,

K. J. Northeutt,

A. E. Metzger,

E. Sehonfeld,

L. E. Peterson,

J.

R. ArnoM,

and R. C. Reedy

CONTENTS

ix

21. APOLLO WINDOW METEOROID

EXPERIMENT

21-1

Burton

G. Cour-Palais

22. APOLLO LUNAR

SOUNDER EXPERIMENT

22-1

R.

J. Phillips, G. F. Adams, W. E. Brown, Jr., R. E. Eggleton, P. Jackson,

R.

Jordan, W. L Linlor, W. J. Peeples, L. J. Porcello, Y. Ryu, G. Schaber,

W. R. Sill,

T. W. Thompson,

S. 1t. Ward, and

J. S. Zelenka

23. SPECTROMETER

ULTRAVIOLET

EXPERIMENT

23-1

William G. Fastie, Paul D. FeMman, Richard C. Henry, 1t. Warren Moos,

Charles A.

Barth,

Gary E.

Thomas,

Charles

F. Lillie,

and

Thomas

M.

Donahu e

24. INFRARED

SCANNING RADIOMETER

24-1

F.

J. Low and W. W. Mendell

25. BIOSTACK EXPERIMENT

25-1

H. Bftcker, G. Horneck, E. Reinholz, W. Rftther, E. H. Graul, H. Planel, J.

P.

Soleilhavoup,

P. Ci_er, R. Kaiser, J. P. Massu_, R. Pfbhl,

W. Enge, K.

P.

Bartholomd,

R.

Beaujean,

K.

Fukui,

O. C. Allkofer,

W. Heinrich, E. V.

 

Benton, E. Sehopper, G. Henig, J. U. Schott, H. Francois, G. Portal, H.

Ki_hn, D. Harder, H. Wollenhaupt,

and G. Bowman

26. B1OCORE EXPERIMENT

26-1

O.

T. Bailey,

E.

V. Benton, M. R. Cruty, G. A. Harrison, W. Haymaker,

G.

Humason,

H. A.

Leon, R. L. Lindberg,

B. C. Look,

C. C. Lushbaugh,

D. E.

Philpott,

T. Samorajski,

R. C. Simmonds,

K. P. Suri,

J. W. Tremor,

C. E.

Turnbill, F. S. Vogel, D. L. Winter, and W. Zeman

27. VISUAL LIGHT FLAStt

PHENOMENON

27-1

L. S. Pinsky,

IV.Z. Osborne,

and J.

V. Bailey

28. OBSERVATIONS

GEOLOGICAL

FROM LUNAR ORBIT

28-1

R.

E. Evans and Farouk El-Baz

29. STRATIGRAPH1C

STUDIES

29-1

PART A. BASALT STRATIGRAPHY

OF SOUTHERN

MARE SERENITATIS

29-1

K.

A. Howard,

M. IL Carr, and W.R. Muehlberger

PART

B. GEOLOGIC

SETTING OF THE DARK MANTLING

MATERIAL

IN

THE TAURUS-L1TTROW

REGION

OF THE MOON

29-13

B.

K. Lucchitta

PART

C.

RELATIVE

AGES OF SOME NEAR-SIDE

MARE UNITS

BASED

ON APOLLO

17 METRIC PHOTOGRAPHS

29-26

Joseph M. Boyce and Arthur

L. Dial, Jr.

PART D. GEOLOGIC Don E. Wilhelms

MAP OF THE NORTHERN

CRISIUM REGION

29-29

x

APOLLO 17 PRELIMINARY

SCIENCE REPORT

30.

VOLCANIC

STUDIES

30-1

PART

A. COMPARATIVE

GEOLOGY

OF CRATER

ARATUS

CA (MARE

SERENITATIS)

(IDAHO)

 

_

"

30-1

Ronald

Greeley

AND BEAR CRATER _

 

PART

B.

MARE

SERENITATIS

CINDER

CONES

AND TERRESTRIAL

 

ANALOGS David H. Scott

 

30-7

PART

C.

SOME VOLCANIC

AND STRUCTURAL

FEATURES

 

OF MARE

SERENITATIS W. B. Bryan and Mary-Linda Adams

 

30-9

PART

D. "D-CALDERA":

NEW PHOTOGRAPHS

OF A UNIQUE FEATURE

30-13

Farouk El-Baz

 

PART

E. ERATOSTHENIAN

VOLCANISM

IN MARE

IMBRIUM:

SOURCE

OF YOUNGEST

LAVA FLOWS

_,

_:

30-17

GeraM G. Schaber

 

,,_

31.

MARE RIDGES AND RELATED

STUDIES

 

",

31-1

PART A. VOLCANISM IN THE LUNAR MARIA

 

31-1

Richard

A.

Young,

,William J. Brennan, Robert

W. Wolfe, and Douglas J.

Nichols

 

PART

B. MARE RIDGES AND LAVA LAKES Carroll Ann Hodges

 

31-12

PART

C. LUNAR

THRUST

FAULTS

IN THE TAURUS-L1TTRoW

REGION

31-22

K. A. Howard

and W. R. Muehlberger

 

PART D. SMALL STRUCTURES David H. Scott

OF THE TAURUS-LtTTROW

REGION

31-25

32.

CRATER

STUDIES

32-1

PART A. LUNAR CRATER MORPHOMETRY

 

32-1

Richard

J. Pike

PART B. AITKEN CRATER Farouk El-Baz

AND ITS ENVIRONS

 

32-8

PART C. VOLCANIC

FEATURES

OF FAR-SIDE, CRATER AITKEN

 

32-13

W. B. Bryan and Mary-Linda

Adams

,

.

HERRINGBONE

PATTERN

 

32-15

PART D. THE LUNAR Verne R. Oberbeck

and'Robert

H. Morrison

 

CONTENTS

xi

33.

REMOTE SENSING AND PHOTOGRAMMETRIC

STUDIES

 

33-1

PART A. REMOTE SENSING OF MARE SERENITATIS

33-3

T.

W. Thompson,

K. A. Howard,

R.

W. Shorthill,

G. L. Tyler,

S. H. Zisk,

E. A. Whitaker,

G. G. Schaber, and 11. J. Moore

 

PART

B.

CALIBRATION

OF

RADAR

DATA

FROM

APOLLO

17 AND

 

OTHER MISSION RESULTS

33-10

H.

J. Moore and S. H. Zisk

 

PART

C.

COMPARISON

BETWEEN

PHOTOGRAMMETRIC

AND

BI-

STATIC-RADAR

SLOPE-FREQUENCY

DISTRIBUTIONS

 

33-17

H.

J. Moore and G. L. Tyler

 

APPENDIX.

EFFECT

OF

PHOTOGRAMMETRIC

READING

ERROR

ON

SLOPE-FREQUENCY

DISTRIBUTIONS

 

33-26

1-1.ar. Moore and Sherman

S.

C. Wu

PART

D. REPEATABILITY

OF ELEVATION

MEASUREMENTS-APOLLO

 

PHOTOGRAPHY

33-35

Sherman

S.

C.

Wu,

Francis J.

Schafer,

Gary M. Nakata,

and Raymond

Jordan

 

PART E. APOLLO

17 LASER ALTIMETER

 

33-41

W. R.

Wollenhaupt,

W. L. Sjogren, R. E. Lingenfelter,

G. Schubert,

and W.

M.

Kaula

 

34.

ASTRONOMICAL

PHOTOGRAPHY

 

34-1

PART A. ZODIACAL

LIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY

 

34-1

R.

D. Mercer, L. Dunkelman,

and R. E. Evans

 

PART B. SOLAR CORONA PHOTOGRAPHY

 

34-4

R.

M. MaeQueen,

C. L. Ross, and R. E. Evans

 

APPENDIX A-Glossary

 

A-1

APPENDIX

B-Abbreviations

and Acronyms

 

B-1

APPENDIX C-Units

and Unit-Conversion

Factors

C-I

Introduction

"'There is nothing more difficult

to take in hand, in its success,

or perilous to conduct,

or more uncertain

than to take the lead in the introduction

of a new order of things. ""

 

Niccolb

Machiavelli

As the

splashdown

and recovery

of the

Apollo

17

The rim of the Serenitatis

basin in the Taurus-Littrow

crew marked

the

end

of the

Apollo

flit_t

program,

region

seemed

to

have

all the

elements

geologists

this

final

volume

marks

the

end

of

the.

Apollo

would

want

to

explore

in

this

final Apollo

mission.

Preliminary Science Reports. From every aspect,

Cinder

cones

and

steep-walled

valleys

with

large

Apollo

missions.

17 was indeed Its

a fitting

and

awesome

capstone

to the Apollo

magnificent

midnight

boulders

sampling,

at

their

at the

base

presented

same location,

both

the

possibility

of

young volcanic

launch, its flawless operation, its 72-hr lunar stay

time, its deployment

return of the richest collection of lunar materials 17 landing was a unique place

from any lunar site, its orbital science coverage, and its glorious splashdown in the Pacific Ocean surely

most impressively

rock

terial.

from

Thus,

depth

and

older

mountainous

ma- of the Apollo

wall

of scientific

instrumentation,

its

the setting for the conduct

in which to carry out

that

questions.

of geologic features and

region repre-

Apollo

of mare

the

many investigations

could

and to return lunar materials

many fundamental

both

of

aid in answering

the standpoint

most

diverse

Returned

marked

Apollo

17

as the

mission

From

the

exemplifying

picked

as

the Apollo

Program.

landing

where

of samples returned,

sents

missions.

the Taurus-Littrow

landing

site

The Taurus-Littrow

a

location

site for Apollo

rocks

both

17 was

and

older

samples include

a variety

younger

than

those

previously

returned

from

other

basalts resembling

those

of the Apollo

11, 12, and

15

Apollo

missions

and

from

the

Luna

16

and

20

missions and

Luna 16;avarietyofbreccias(including

missions

might

be

found.

For

this

mission,

it

was

KREEP-like,

anorthositic,

and soft types)

similar

to

hoped

that

the

discovery

of younger

basaltic

rocks,

those

of the Apollo

14, 15, and 16 missions and Luna

differing

in

crystallization

age from

the

3.2

to

3.7

20;

two

coarse-grained

igneous

rocks

of

a type

not

billion

years

of

previously

returned

mare

basalts,

found

on

previous

missions;

dark

mantle

softs that

would

lead

to

an improved

understanding

both

of

appear

to

be

erosional

products

of

basalts;

light

volcanism

and

of the

thermal

history

of the

Moon.

mantle

softs

that

appear

to

be

dominantly

the

Similarly,

it

was hoped

that

the

discovery

of rocks

erosional

products

of highlands;

a variety

of exotic

formed earlier than 3.7 to 4.0 billion years ago would

glasses;

and,

most

characteristic

of

this

mission,

lead to further

understanding

both

of the early lunar

boulder samples that provide the best alternative to

crust

and

formation

of

material

of the Moon.

present

at

the

time

of

the

The identification and selection of the landing site

inaccessible

outcrops

At

Shorty

Crater,

of the lunar surface.

black

orange

and

glasses that

were hopefully young volcanic material were ob-

resulted from Astronaut Worden's Apollo 15 orbital observations (he noticed dark patterns that looked

like cinder cones in the Littrow region of the Moon) suggest that this impact crater apparently excavated

and

served and sampled.

However,

the old age of the glass

and the astronaut observations and photographs

layers of very old pyroclastic material. Throughout

from detailed

analysis

of the Apollo

15 imagery,

xiJi

xiv

APOLLO

17 PRELIMINARY

SCIENCE REPORT

 

this landing

site,

10 to 20 percent of each soil sample

Several other

surface and orbital experiments

were

consists

from subsurface

of these "exotic"

glasses, apparentIy

brought

layers and distributed

by the garden-

conducted

the

lunar

on the

Apollo

17 mission,

which

atmospheric

composition,

the

lunar

include

ejecta

ing

effect.

The

Apollo

17

mission

provided

the

and meteorites,

the

lunar

tidal gravimeter,

the ultra-

scientific

world

with the

best lunar sample return

in

violet

spectrometer,

the infrared

scanning

radiometer,

both

potential

quantity

of information

and variety

of

and

the

lunar

sounder.

At

the

time

of this

writing,

sample

types.

Except for the sampling of one possible

there

are insufficient

data

to give an overview from

outcrop

on Apollo

15, the Apollo

17 boulder samples

these

findings,

which,

in the future,

 

are expected

to

should

allow

the

best possibility

of placing returned

give additional

information

about

Taurus-Littrow

and

lunar

materials

in their

proper

structural

and

strati-

that

region

of

the

Moon

covered

by

the

command

graphic context.

One

example

of

how

sampling

and service module

groundtrack.

 

techniques have become more sophisticated since the

The

sections

that

follow

present

the

preliminary

Apollo

11 mission was the collection

of samples from

results

obtained

in the analysis

of the Apollo

17 data

a

large boulder

at station

6. One part

gray;

of the

other

boulder

to date.

As will be seen, the

Apollo

17 data fill some

was

vesicular

and

green

the

part

was

gaps in knowledge

about

the near-side

surface

of the

practically

nonvesicular

and blue gray.

Samples were

Moon

but,

at

the

same

time,

raise

many

other

taken

from

both parts of this boulder,

as well as from

questions.

However,

one cannot

conclude

a report

on

various

locations

up

to

and

through

the

contact,

the Apollo

17 mission without

again emphasizing

that

Further

analysis

suggests

that

the

blue-gray

material

it was a fitting

finale to the Apollo Program

from the

reacted

to

become

more vesicular

near

the

contact;

standpoint

both

of

operations

and

of science.

It

is

this material

also

occurs

as

fragments

within

the

also important

to review what has been learned in the

green-gray

material

on

the

vesicular

side

of

the

brief

3.5 yr from

the

first lunar landing of Apollo

11

contact.

Sampling

of this

type

provides

insight into

on July

20,

1969,

of Apollo

the evolution

of the older crustal

materials.

17 on December

to the final splashdown 17, 1972.

Knowledge

of the Moon

was also enhanced

by the

Before the Apollo

Program,

astronomical

observa-

correlation

of the

traverse

experiments,

which

pro-

tions

provided

an early

picture

of the

details of the

vided better understanding

of

the

site's

subsurface

lunar

surface.

In

those

days,

intelligent

speculation

relationships,

obtained

from

the

interpretation

of

about

the origin and history

of the Moon was greatly

seismic,

electrical

properties,

and

gravitational

data.

inhibited

because

the

scientific

data

required

about

Seismic

traverse

experiments

indicate

that

basaltic

the chemistry

and about

the internal

condition

of the

flows

extend

to

a depth

of approximately

1.2 km.

planet

could

not

be

furnished

even

by

the

most

The

traverse

gravimeter

experiment

has

provided

powerful

telescopes.

Some

of

the

most

important

limits

to the density

of the underlying

material,

and

scientific

observations

concerning

the

nature

of the

the observed

gravity anomaly

allows development

of

Moon and existing prior to the manned

lunar landings

a

model

for

mass variations

in the valley

and in

the

are summarized

below.

 

massifs.

This

model

may be of significance

in inter-

The discovery

of the physiographic

preting

the

major

mascons

of the

Moon.

The

elec-

Moon

dates

back

to

Galileo,

who

features of the observed that the

trical properties experiment has confirmed the gravity

side

of

the

Moon

facing

the

Earth

consisted

of

and seismic data bY establishing that the basaltic

mountainous

regions

that

he

designated

terra

and

thickness

is between

1 and

1.5 km. These data

also

smoother

regions that he designated

mare, similar to

show that the regolith is relatively, thick, perhaps

20

terrestrial

continents

and

oceans.

He also observed

a

to. 40 m. with some variation in thickness. The

marked

difference

in

reflectivity

between

these two

dielectric constant and loss tangent measurements are

regions of the Moon:

the mare was much

darker than

in good

agreement

with previously

determined

values

the

terra.

Further

astronomical

studies

added

much

obtained

from lunar samples and ground observations,

detail

to

Galileo's

discovery,

including

rather

fine

The heat

flow measurements

at the Apollo

17 site

features

such

as tire rilles.

However,

before

Apollo,

have

been

shown to be roughly

the

same as those

at

the cause of these fundamental physiographic differ-

the

Apollo

15

site,

indicating

that,

at least

on.the

ences was not well understood. Later, some scientists

near side of the Moon, a reasonable value of heat flow

may

be 2

X 10

6 to

3 X

10 -6

W/cm2/sec.

hypgthesized:

that

were very extensive

the

relatively

lava flows.

smooth

Others

mare basins

that

theorized

INTRODUCTION

xv

they were extensive

dust deposits, in fact, dust bowls.

Some

of

these

facts

and

observations

have

already

Still other scientists

seriously suggested that the maria

been tentatively

assembled

in models that are leading

were filled

by

a type

of sedimentary

rock

that was

to

a

much

fuller

understanding

of

lunar

history.

deposited

at a very early stage in lunar history when

Although

it is extremely

difficult

to account

for the

the Moon had an atmosphere,

remaining

facts

with

a consistent

explanation,

major

 

Before

man

landed

on

the

lunar

surface,

two

areas of understanding

can be briefly

outlined.

 

explanations

for the

origin of the circular depressions

A rather

definite

and

reliable

time

scale for the

or

craters,

the

most

common

physiographic

feature

sequence

of

events

of

lunar

history

has

been

de-

on the lunar surface,

were continuously

debated: (I)

ycleped.

It has been established

with

some confidence

that

the

features

of the

craters, similar to calderas on

that

the

filling of the

mare basins largely

took

place

Earth,

were of volcanic origin, and (2) that the craters

between

3.2 and 3.8 billion

years ago. This has been

were

produced

by

projectiles

impacting

the

lunar

demonstrated

from

analysis

of

the

mare

basalts

surface,

in the

same way that meteorites

occasionally

obtained

from the Apollo

11,

12, 15, and

17 missions

excavate

the

craters on Earth.

of the

Now it is fully realized that

be sculpted

both

by

surface

Moon could

and

major physiographic

Luna

16. Because

these mare fillings represent

feature

the

lunar

surface,

a

it

impacts

and

by

volcanic

craters,

but

primarily

by

has been inferred

that the

on time of formation

of more

impacts,

than

90 percent

of the

cratering

on the Moon

was 4

Dialogue

on

the

activity

of the

Moon and on the

billion years

ago or earlier.

In comparison,

the ocean

role of volcanism

on tile lunar surface developed

into

basins

of the

Earth

are

younger

than

300

million

three

schools

of thought

on the

therraal

history

of

years.

(Terrestrial

rocks

older than

3 billion years are

the

Moon.

One school held that

the Moon had

been

almost

unknown.)

The

analysis

of

the

highland

relatively