SCHRÖDINGER BASIN (135°E, 75°S), THE SECOND YOUNGEST BASIN ON THE MOON
A study of Kohout and al. – 40th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (2009) & Nördlingen Ries Crater Workshop (2010)
Located near the South Pole on the lunar far side, it is the second youngest impact basin (after Orientale) and, thus, remains well exposed for scientific study. Schrödinger intersects the pre-Nectarian Amundsen-Gainswindt basin (AG), as well as the inner rings of the South Pole-Aitken (SPA) basin. Modeling suggests that Schrödinger’s inner ring originates from a depth of 1030 km and, therefore, might contain indigenous SPA materials. Additionally, at least three volcanic units, deep fractures, ghost craters, and secondary craters can be found within the basin. The floor contains two impact melt lithologies, a rough plains unit and a smooth plains unit, resulting of two types of lunar volcanism: mare balsalts and pyroclastic.
Scrödinger impact crater
Schroïdinger has a diameter of 315 km, a depth of 4,5 km, and a prominent inner peak ring that rises at 1-2,5 km above the basin floor. what that makes it an ideal location for a future landing site is that, it may have tapped deep chrustal lithologies associated with SPA-forming impact.
Credit: This flyover was conceptualized and produced by Dr. David A. Kring. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera data was assembled and rendered by Dr. Debra M. Hurwitz. Modeling and animation were implemented by John Blackwell. The music on the sound track is Darkest Night by Pond5 and used with permission. / Lunar and Planetary Institute
For authors, major scientific goals can be accomplished within Schrödinger, specifically those from the National Research Council lunar science priorities. For this basin that will be to determine the ages of the impact event and the material from its inner ring. In the case that SPA material is uplifted there, the SPA event can be dated allowing to anchor the Earth-Moon impact flux curve. Also, studying the material produced by various basaltic volcanic events (Upper Imbrian and Eratosthenian in age), the deep seated explosive volcanism (Eratosthenian or Copernican in age), the potential products of crustal and mantle degassing along deep fractures, as well as the ghost craters flooded by a melt sheet, and the secondary craters on the basin floor.
To be able to reach those goals, they propose a landing site for human exploration on a relatively smooth terrain within the inner ring of Schrödinger – either on the exposed melt sheet or on one of the basaltic units. Such a location will provide access to the features outlined above and meet a planned ~20 km extra vehicular activity (EVA) limit . Based on geological mapping and Clementine images, they evaluated three landing sites where at least 4 of the scientific objectives can be accomplished.
On the left, we see the Clementine Image of the Schrödinger basin with the geological map. the three landing sites and corresponding 10 km EVA radius ( of a 20 km return trip) are outlined in white. the yellow number correspond to the following scientific goals of interest: 1- the melt sheet, 2-the inner ring, 3-the basaltic units, 4-the explosive volcanic unit, 5-the deep crustal fracture, 6-the ghost craters, 7-the secondary craters and, 8-the ridged terrain.
The first landing site is located on the northern part of the Schrödinger melt sheet where a basaltic unit is superimposed. This relatively smooth terrain should ensure safe landing conditions. The basaltic unit might be the first sample station. It is approx. 5 km across in its shorter dimension and, thus, can be completely traversed before proceeding farther south to one of two facies of Schrödinger’s melt sheet, providing a second point of interest within a single EVA. A second EVA to the southwest provides access to a second basaltic unit. A third EVA towards the west of the landing site will take crew to the second of the two melt facies and to one of the deep fractures on the basin floor. From those stations, crew can move north to Schrödinger’s inner ring.
Additionally, an Orientale secondary crater is located east of one of the basaltic units in a rougher terrain that could be targeted by additional EVA’s .
A second landing site is located in the western part of the Schrödinger’s melt sheet, near two large ghost craters that appear to have been flooded by the melt sheet during the complex formation of the basin. This provides the first opportunity for crew to study the morphology of a ghost crater and the thickness of a basin melt sheet. Towards the east, a ridged terrain of unknown origin as well as Antoniadi secondary craters can be reached. Towards the west, Schrödinger’s inner ring is accessible for additional sampling of potential SPA material.
A third landing site is proposed in the southeastern part of the basin to study an explosive volcanic unit. The central volcanic crater, as well as crustal fractures through which magma may have migrated towards the surface, occur within EVA limits. Additionally, Schrödinger’s inner ring is accessible to the southeast and Antoniadi secondary craters occur towards the west. One of the impact melt facies is located near the landing site and, if routes across basin fractures can be found, the other facies can also be reached. This option, however, must be evaluated with additional work. The use high-resolution imagery, spectroscopic data, and digital elevation models can be used within a Geographic information system (GIS) to identify locations of high interest for EVA.
In addition, a GIS can be used to assess potential EVA routes and to maximize hazard avoidance by characterizing surface parameters (i.e., slope angle, slope aspect, roughness, composition, etc.) prior to surface operations .
Additionally, a precursor robotic rover can reduce the risk, requirements, and cost of a human exploration [7, 8] and provide site characterization to enhance the efficiency of human exploration by identifying the highest priority traverse stations. It could also collect and deliver samples from remote areas to the human mission landing site or conduct complementary research after the human mission departure .
Ejecta blancket features
THE SCHRÖDINGER BASIN - 135°E, 75°S
The lunar farside — that mysterious face of the Moon hidden from Earth – contains a cache of clues about how the Earth formed, how planets evolved, and how volcanic and impact cratering processes reshaped the Solar System. The farside of the Moon holds the key to the earliest bombardment of the Earth and whether impact cratering processes were involved in the origin and earliest evolution of life on Earth.
The oldest and largest impact basin on the Moon is nearly 2,500 kilometers in diameter and stretches from the South Pole to a tiny crater called Aitken. This South Pole-Aitken basin (also called SPA basin) is one of the leading targets for human and human-assisted robotic exploration. A particularly rich scientific and exploration target within that basin is the Schrödinger basin, about 320 kilometers in diameter, and located towards the south polar end of the South Pole-Aitken basin.
Scientists and engineers are already designing the methods for a mission to Schrödinger that collects samples and brings their extraordinary secrets back to Earth for study. To give you a perspective of this mission, we have created a video and soundtrack that carries you to the Moon, around the South Pole-Aitken basin, and to a first landing site within the Schrödinger basin. We hope this is the first step in an exhilarating mission of discovery.