Priority Lunar Mission Target: The Lunar Swirls At Ingenii

Georgiana Kramer
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Priority Lunar Mission Target: The Lunar Swirls At Ingenii
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Due to page space restrictions, I must refer the reader to [1] to be reminded why any lunar swirl should be a priority target for a lunar mission - not only to understand their own particular existence, but also for studying questions related to: lunar magnetic anomalies, plasma physics, heliosphysics, space weathering, the surface hydroxylization phenomenon, as well as a location to sample fresh surface (or at least mostly unmolested by the solar wind) material, and potentially preserved samples of the ancient solar wind. Here I tell you why, if I had to pick only one, it would be the swirls at Ingenii. Any relevant information about landing site characterization Ingenii Basin is located on the lunar farside at 33.25 S, 164.83 E. It is Pre-Nectarian in age and has an inner rim diameter of ∼325 km. Basalts only partially fill the basin, but flood two large, adjacent impact craters (Thompson, ∼120 km and Thompson M, ∼100 km in diameter; Fig. 1a), both of which fit neatly within the basin perimeter. The science/exploration question(s) to be addressed at the site A FLAT PLACE TO LAND. The swirls impart no topography, they simply drape whatever existing topography over which they lay. Stereo camera, thermal, and radar imaging show that the surface and subsurface roughness of swirls are no different than their surroundings [2, 3]. So one would need not worry about unexpected uneven surfaces or consolidation when landing on a swirl/dark lane interface. SOUTH POLE-AITKEN (SPA) is a high priority lunar exploration target for a sample return mission because determining its age will anchor the basin- forming epoch, test the terminal cataclysm hypothesis, and SPA impact melt will provide insight into lunar mantle and large impact melt differentiation. Ingenii is located in the northwest corner of SPA making it an ideal location to sample quenched SPA melt, differentiated SPA melt, and likely excavated primitive crust. The magnetically shielded regions at Ingenii would yield relatively fresh SPA material for sampling. In addition, the magnetic anomalies may be beacons for the locations of the SPA impactor [4]. BASIN ANTIPODE EFFECTS. Ingenii Basin is surrounded by unusual “furrowed terrain”, which is attributed to the convergence of seismic waves from the Imbrium impact [5, 6]. Some of these blocks may be uplifted portions of the SPA differentiated melt sheet. LUNAR WATER. The high albedo swirl markings appear dark in OH/H2O maps (Fig. 1b) indicating that the swirls are depleted in these volatiles relative to their surroundings [7]. This makes swirls ideal places to study the surface hydroxylation phenomenon and potentially provide locations for extracting this resource. UTILIZING A SKYLIGHT. Mare Ingenii is one of a few location where a skylight, or collapsed lava tube, has been identified in the lunar maria (Fig. 1c). Skylights broadcast access to ideal locations for use as a habitat for a sustained human presence, because can protect astronauts from solar storms and prolonged exposure to cosmic rays. Whether or not mobility is needed (as opposed to desired) Mobility would be needed to accomplish all of the science and exploration opportunities available at Ingenii, however several remain that could be accomplished with a well-placed lander, for example sampling fresh and mature SPA material. Whether or not sample return is essential to answering the question(s) or can in situ data suffice Like the question of whether mobility is necessary, a sample return mission is not essential, although obviously would be as a location selected due to providing scientific value in addition to a primary question; for example, a SPA sample return mission. Caption for Figure 1: Mare Ingenii (a) M3 750 nm reflectance; (b) M3 OH parameter map (band depth at 2820 nm); (c) LRO-NAC image showing skylight in Ingenii (location indicated by yellow arrow in (a).