Lunar Research

In the course of processing the Lunar Orbiter photographs, I investigated the nature of the artifacts of scanning and reproduction of the images and the methods of cleaning the photos. The results of these studies were published as abstracts at the annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conventions (LPSC) and are available on this web site. 

As a result of hearing other contributions to the LPSC and other meetings, and writing notes on the geology of the photos for my book, I became interested in the nature of large impacts on the Moon. Specifically, my interests have focussed on the multi-ringed basins, those impacts that are typically 300 km or more in diameter.

There are two major puzzles about these basins that I am investigating:

  • Why are the largest basins concentrated on the near side of the Moon?
  • What is the mechanism of forming the rings?

My early work concentrated on the distribution of basins by size and position (see the abstract entitled "Size Distribution of Multi-ringed Basins" on this web site). This abstract, and additional work that I presented in the poster session in March 2005, show that nearly all basins whose diameter exceeds 500 km are concentrated in a circular zone of 75 degrees radius whose center is at about 29 degrees east longitude and 2 degrees south latitude. 

Recently, I have found the early basin underlying the region of large maria (see "The Near Side Megabasin") . This basin, centered at 8.5 N and 22 E, is over 100 degrees in radius and covers half of the Moon, including nearly all of the near side. It coincides with lower elevations and thinner crust: its ejecta accounts for the deeper crust on the far side. 

In preparation for the search for the new large basin, I have examined the Orientale, Moscoviense, Korolev, Humboltianum, Grimaldi, Hertzsprung, Humorum, and Apollo Basins and have established a common model for the internal basin and its external ejecta (see "Radial profiles of lunar basins). This model has been successfully extended for the very large South Pole -Aitken and even larger Near Side Megabasin.

In 2007, Hikida and Wieczorek published a new model of the crustal thickness. This led to my awareness that topography and crustal thickness are consistent with the Near Side Megabasin event if it was ssubject to full isostatic compensation. This point is made in my book "The Far Side of the Moon: a Photographic Guide" (Springer, 2008) and in the paper "A Large Basin on the Near Side of the Moon", Earth Moon and Science, 2008.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Major Publications

The Shape and History of the Moon  by Charles J. Byrne, PowerPoint alk at the 2012 NASA Lunar Science Forum, July 19, 2012.
The current topography of the Moon is deconstructed to find the set of features greater than 200 km in diameter, including the three megabasins: the Near Side Megabasin, the South Pole-Aitken Basin, and the newly identified  St. John-Tselius Basin. Together with many smaller impact features and a few other depressions and mounds, the algorithmic models of all of these features produce a very close simulation of the current topography of the Moon.
Warning -- the file size is 4 Megabytes.

Stragraphy of Lunar Craters by Don E. Wilhelms and Charles J. Byrne, January 23, 2009. This document is presented here for the first time. It is based on the Geographic History of the Moon (GHM, Don. E. Williams, 1987). It lists explicitly the estimated strata of over 1500  large lunar craters, along with their latitude, longitude, strata (pre-Nectarian, Nectarian, Lower Imbrian, Upper Imbrian, Eratosthenian, and Copernican) and provides comments by Dr. Wilhelms. The body of this document is in the form of a series of tables corresponding to Plates 6 through 12 of the GHM and may be considered a key to those plates. In addition to the body there is Appendix A, Lunar Craters Sorted by Name and Appendix B, Lunar Craters Sorted by LAC Chart.

Power Point talk on the Near Side Megabasin of the Moon given at the 37th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, League City, TX, March 17, 2006.  Warning -- the file size is 8 Megabytes.

Expanded Power Point talk on the NSM given to Star Astronomy on May 1, 2008.

A Large Basin on the Near Side of the Moon
Article published online by the journal "Earth, Moon, and Planets", doi 10.1007/s11038-007-9225-8, January 24, 2008. This article provides the detailed description of the Near Side Megabasin, its relation to both topography and crustal thickness, and the implications of this giant ancient basin. The cavity of the Near Side Megabasin covers nearly all of the near side of the Moon and part of the far side. Its ejecta covers the rest of the far side.

The link above  is to the manuscript version (.pdf, 2 Megabytes). The published paper is at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11038-007-9225-8. 

Other Publications (most documents are .pdf files)

The Near Side Megabasin of the Moon
Abstract 1930, 37th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, League City, TX, March 13-17, 2006. 

Radial Profiles of Lunar Basins
Abstract 1900, 37th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, League City, TX, March 13-17, 2006

Size Distributions of Lunar Basins
Abstract 1260,
36th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, League City, TX 
March 14-18, 2005.

Gravity Focussing of Swarms of Potential Impactors
Abstract 1262
 34th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, League City, TX 
March 14-18, 2005.

Evidence for Three Basins beneath Oceanus Procellarum 
Abstract 1103, 35th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, League City, TX
March 15-19, 2004.

Proposed High-Level Regional Focal Points for Lunar Geography
Abstract 1517, 34th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, League City, TX
March 17-21, 2003.

Corrections of Image Motion Smear in Photo from Lunar Orbiter Mission I 
Abstract 1171, 34th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, League City, TX
March 17-21, 2003.

A New Moon: Improved Lunar Orbiter Mosaics
The Moon Beyond 2002: Next Steps in Lunar Science and
Exploration, Taos, NM
September 12-14, 2002.

Automated Cosmetic Improvement of Mosaics from the Lunar Orbiter Atlas
33rd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, League City, TX
March 11-15, 2002.

 

 

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