08.15.2011 - Twenty-five years have passed since seven brave astronauts lost their lives in the Challenger accident. As the Shuttle program comes to an end, we are reminded of those who lost their lives in the pursuit of human exploration. Shortly after the accident, the Challenger astronauts were memorialized by having lunar craters named after them. These seven craters, located on the far side of the Moon in the Apollo Basin, expose deep portions of the lunar crust.
This LOLA image reveals that the depths of McNair and Jarvis craters, in particular, reach nearly 7 km below the lunar datum (the Moon's equivalent of 'sea level'). The depth of McNair and Jarvis is due to their placement within the large Apollo Basin (an existing topographic low) as well as the Apollo Basins location in the even larger South Pole-Aitken Basin. When combined with data from other LRO instruments such as LROC and Diviner, and instruments aboard other spacecraft such as the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) aboard Chandrayaan-1, the complex nature of the Challenger craters is revealed. Data from the M3 instrument reveal that Jarvis crater's composition may represents a deep portion of the lunar crust.
1. Steigerwald, B. (2010) "Biggest, Deepest Crater Exposes Hidden, Ancient Moon," 02 June 2011.
2. Robinson, M. (2011) "Challenger Astronauts Memorialized on the Moon," 28 January 2011, LROC Featured Image..
3. Petro, N. et al. (2011) "Lower Crustal Materials Exposed in the Apollo Basin Revealed Using Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) Data," 41st Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, Abstract 1802, March 1-5, The Woodlands, TX.