Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

From Mark Robinson of Arizona State University, the leader of the NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s LROC super camera:

If all goes well, on January 3rd or 4th the Chang’e 4 spacecraft will gently set down on the floor of Von Kármán crater (186 kilometers diameter, 176.2°E, 44.5°S).

This will be the second soft landing on the Moon for the China National Space Administration, and the first ever landing on the farside.

Spectacular views

And what a site! Von Kármán crater and its surroundings hold a wealth a of geologic targets: mare basalts, low relief volcanic constructs, massive landslides, secondary craters, and swirls (just outside Von Kármán crater). Not to mention the spectacular views!

Chang’e-4 lander deploys lunar rover. Credit: CCTV/Screengrab/Inside Outer Space

Von Kármán crater would be a worthy target for future crewed landings.

Key questions

When did the crater form? What is the age, origin and composition of farside basalts (and thus the farside mantle)? What are those volcanic constructs (lower left of the opening image)? Is there any KREEPy material in the local mare or highlands?

Chang’e-4 carrying out low-frequency radio astronomical studies.
Credit: CCTV/Screengrab/Inside Outer Space



[Editor’s note: KREEP is believed to have formed early in the history of the Moon during the solidification of the Moon’s molten stage, known as the magma ocean.]

What is the age of Antoniadi crater (its ejecta lies on the floor of Von Kármán crater)?

Explore this fascinating crater and its surroundings in this zoomify mosaic by going to:

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