Central Peak of Copernicus Crater
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Central Peak of Copernicus Crater

November 30, 2012
Spectral data from previous lunar orbital spacecraft suggested that the bulk of these light-toned rocks are consistent with troctolite (different from basalt and anorthosite that commonly occur on the lunar surface). A troctolite is a relatively uncommon igneous rock on Earth. Troctolites consist of almost equal parts of the minerals olivine and Ca-rich plagioclase and are found in some of the most ancient large subsurface igneous bodies on Earth. Such igneous bodies are thought to have formed so slowly over time that the crystals separated from the cooling liquid magma (somewhat like oil and water separating) and accumulated (either sinking to the bottom or floating to the surface) in the magma body. These magma bodies may be quite abundant beneath the lunar crust as suggested by spectral studies of crater central peaks and cosmochemical investigations of Apollo lunar samples (especially the regolith samples) as well as lunar meteorites. Anaglyph of the central peak of Copernicus crater. Requires the use of anaglyph glasses (with a red lens on the left and a blue lens on the right). Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

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