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South Pole-Aitken Sample Return Mission: Collecting Mare Basalts from the Far Side of the MoonWe consider the probability that a sample mission to a site within the South Pole-Aitken Basin (SPA) would return basaltic material. A sample mission to the SPA would be the first opportunity to sample basalts from the far side of the Moon. The near side basalts are more abundant in terms of volume and area than their far-side counterparts (16:1), and the basalt deposits within SPA represent approx. 28% of the total basalt surface area on the far side. Sampling far-side basalts is of particular importance because as partial melts of the mantle, they could have derived from a mantle that is mineralogically and chemically different than determined for the nearside, as would be expected if the magma ocean solidified earlier on the far side. For example, evidence to support the existence of high-Th basalts like those that appear to be common on the nearside in the Procellarum KREEP Terrane has been found. Although SPA is the deepest basin on the Moon, it is not extensively filled with mare basalt, as might be expected if similar amounts of partial melting occurred in the mantle below SPA as for basins on the near side. These observations may mean that mantle beneath the far-side crust is lower in Th and other heat producing elements than the nearside. One proposed location for a sample-return landing site is 60 S, 160 W. This site was suggested to maximize the science return with respect to sampling crustal material and SPA impact melt, however, basaltic samples would undoubtedly occur there. On the basis of Apollo samples, we should expect that basaltic materials would be found in the vicinity of any landing site within SPA, even if located away from mare deposits. For example, the Apollo 16 mission landed in an ancient highlands region 250-300 km away from the nearest mare-highlands boundary yet it still contains a small component of basaltic samples (20 lithic fragments ranging is size from <1 to .01 cm). A soil sample from the floor of SPA will likely contain an assortment of basaltic fragments from surrounding regions. In terms both of selecting the best landing sites and understanding the geologic context for returned samples, it is important to understand the compositional distribution of basalts within SPA basin.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Document Type
Conference Paper
Gillis, J. J.
(Washington Univ. Saint Louis, MO, United States)
Jolliff, B. L.
(Washington Univ. Saint Louis, MO, United States)
Lucey, P. G.
(Hawaii Univ. Honolulu, HI, United States)
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2003
Publication Information
Publication: Lunar and Planetary Science XXXIV
Subject Category
Lunar And Planetary Science And Exploration
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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