Depths of Mare Ingenii

Impact craters are visible everywhere on the Moon, but pits are rare. This pit in Mare Ingenii (located at 35.95°S, 166.06°E) is about 130 m in diameter! Image width is 550 m, illumination is from the upper right, NAC M128202846LE [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

Mare Ingenii may be best known for its prominent lunar swirls, which are high albedo surface features associated with magnetic anomalies. However, lunar swirls are not the only unique geologic feature found in the farside "sea of cleverness". The high-resolution cameras aboard the Japanese SELENE/Kaguya spacecraft first discovered this irregularly-shaped hole, visible in the opening image at LROC's 0.55 m/pixel resolution. The boulders and debris resting on the floor of the pit are partially illuminated (left side of the pit, above image) and probably originated at the surface, falling through the pit opening during collapse.



Arrow indicates location of pit. "S" indicates one of the numerous lunar swirls located in this region. Portion of LROC WAC mosaic, 200 m/pixel resolution; image width is 160 km [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].



A pit in the Marius Hills region, previously discovered by the JAXA SELENE/Kaguya mission, is thought to be a skylight into a lava tube in the rille-riddled region. Similar to the Marius Hills pit, the pit in Mare Ingenii is probably the result of a partially collapsed lava tube. However, the numerous volcanic features of the Marius Hills (such as the prominent rilles and domes) are not found in Mare Ingenii. Why the differences between regions? Future human exploration to this location would surely help scientists answer this question!

Peer into the depths of this exciting LROC NAC frame!

Inspect other pit craters in Mare Tranquillitatis and the Marius Hills.

Published by Lillian Ostrach on 16 June 2010