Scientists Discover Volcanic Activity In Moon’s Tycho Crater

Contrary to the popular theory, the moon had a lot of volcanic activity and was not a dead place, according to India’s Chandrayaan-1 and NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

AsianScientist (Apr. 16, 2012) – Contrary to the popular theory, the moon had a lot of volcanic activity and was not a dead place, according to recent findings from India’s moon mission, Chandrayaan-1, and NASA’s lunar mission, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).

These findings were published in the April 2012 issue of Current Science, a journal by the Indian Academy of Sciences. The report was jointly prepared by scientists from ISRO’s Space Application Center and Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), an ISRO affiliate, both located in Ahmedabad.

“These findings have important implications towards the understanding of the mechanism of the formation and evolution of the moon’s central peaks and volcanic activity on the moon,” the report states.

The focus of this study was Tycho, a young impact crater of the Copernican Age in the southern highlands of the moon. This crater has a well-developed central peak with an altitude of two kilometers.

Evidence for a moon volcano was based on the data collected by Chandrayaan-1’s terrain mapping camera (TMC) and moon minerology mapper (M3), along with the narrow angle camera of NASA’s LRO.

“Our study provides direct evidence of volcanism on the central peak in the form of volcanic vents, boulders and lava ponds showing prominent cooling cracks and lava channels with well-defined flow fronts at several locations,” the authors state.

Chandrayaan-1 Terrain Mapping Camera (TMC) data mosaic of the Tycho crater (Source: Current Science).

The discovery of a two kilometer high peak with large boulders on top of a crater and signatures of strong volcanic activities around a peak throws light onto the moon’s history and also the composition of the mountain itself.

The article can be found at: Chauhan P et al. (2012) Compositional and morphological analysis of high resolution remote sensing data over central peak of Tycho crater on the Moon: implications for understanding lunar interior.


Copyright: Asian Scientist magazine; Photo: Current Science/IAS.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Srinivas is a journalist with a passion for space exploration.

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