Study area that shows location of the Apollo basin (white dashed line) near the rim of
the South Pole‐Aitken (SPA) basin and large impact craters for reference.
Credit: Ivanov, et al.

Lunar researchers have conducted a geological analysis of the northern portion of the South Pole‐Aitken (SPA) basin.

The SPA is the largest recognized and likely the oldest impact structure on the Moon.

Impact, volcanic events

Results of the team’s mapping efforts permitted the unraveling of the major sequence of impact and volcanic events that have shaped the basin throughout its evolution, the researchers note, and resulted in the discovery of the oldest materials related to the basin formation.

“Analysis of the distribution and concentrations of iron and titanium in the materials of different age within the SPA basin allows the characterization of the structure of the ancient lunar crust and mantle. These results introduce important constraints on the current models of the early evolution of the Moon,” the lunar authorities report.

Regional topography of the study area with black dashed line indicating the Apollo basin. Solid lines show position of topographic profiles. The hypsogram for the study area shows two principal topographic domains, the SPA floor and rim that were formed after the SPA event. Lastly, a topographic profile across the floor and the rim of the SPA is depicted.
Credit: Ivanov, et al.

Russian, U.S., German team

One of the major issues regarding the history and evolution of the SPA region is the age and extent of volcanic activity within the basin.

The mapping work – “Geologic history of the northern portion of the South Pole-Aitken basin on the Moon” – has been published in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Planets.

Mikhail A. Ivanov of the V.I. Vernadsky Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences, in Moscow is lead author of the research paper, along with a U.S. lunar specialist and German experts.

For more information on this work, go to:


One Response to “Moon Mappers Chart Section of South Pole‐Aitken (SPA) Basin”

  • David DeVorkin says:

    Dear Mr. David,

    I’m curious to know why this particular feature was named after Lick astronomer Robert Grant Aitken. If you have any insights, or maybe a link to some IAU or NASA website, etc., just send the link to me at (during the shutdown)


    David DeVorkin

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