Floor of Tsiolkovskiy - Exploration Region of Interest
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Floor of Tsiolkovskiy - Exploration Region of Interest

November 30, 2012
Tsiolkovskiy Crater is 185 km (115 miles) wide and is located on the far side of the Moon. It is named after Russian scientist and visionary space pioneer Konstantin Tsiolkovskiy. The crater has a complex central peak, a smooth lava-flooded floor, a lunar lobate scarp located on the ejecta blanket near the crater rim, and several other interesting geomorphological landforms and features that make Tsiolkovskiy an exciting destination for future human lunar exploration. Tsiolkovskiy's floor is covered with relatively smooth mare basalt that formed from pooling basalt that was erupted after the crater formed. The central peak, a large mountain near the center of the crater, is composed of material from beneath the crater floor that rebounded upward after being compressed during the impact event. Also visible are many boulders or pieces of the uplifted central peak that have broken off and accumulated on the crater floor. The relationship between some of the boulders and the mare basalt flows is complex. In some areas it appears that boulders are surrounded and partially covered by the basalt lava indicating that the lava formed more recently than the boulders. In others, the boulders look like they rest on top of the dark lava flows. The biggest boulders in this view are up to ~25 m (over 80 feet) in length! This is roughly the length of a college basketball court or two school buses lined up lengthwise. In areas such as this, astronauts are able to easily collect and study rocks from the smooth mare crater floor as well as rocks that originated from beneath the lunar surface! You can also see on the floor of the crater multiple smaller craters that formed over time as small asteroids and comets impacted the Moon. Scientists can use counts and measurements of superposed craters to estimate when Tsiolkovskiy Crater formed - the more craters, the older the surface on which they lie. LROC NAC view of boulders on an outlying rampart of the complex central peak of Tsiolkovskiy crater within the Exploration region of interest. The image is roughly 700 m wide (LROC NAC frame M113107391L) Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

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