UBC Undergraduate Research

Characterizing the Depths and Central Peaks of Lunar Complex Craters with LOLA Topography Kalynn, Jessica


Using recently-released Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) topography data, we revisit the depth-diameter and central peak height-diameter relationships for fresh complex lunar craters that previously could only be determined using images. We assembled a dataset of young craters with diameters ≥ 15km and ensured they were unmodified and fresh using Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s Wide-Angle Camera images. LOLA’s gridded topography data records allowed us to determine the rim-to-floor crater depths, as well as central peak heights above the crater floor, which we analyzed as a function of crater diameter using power law relationships. We find that the depths are deeper and central peak heights are larger than previously reported. Further they are dependent on target terrain - craters on highland terrain are on average deeper and have higher central peaks than craters on mare terrain. There is a significant amount of variability within the central peak heights for a given diameter, which should be investigated in future studies. Viable numerical models for complex crater formation should match our depth-diameter relationships and endeavor to predict the central peak height variability.

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