Mineral analysis of lunar crater deposit prompts a second look at the impact cratering process

Apr 02, 2013
Pre-existing mineral deposits on the Moon (sinuous melt, above) survived impacts powerful enough to melt rock. Visible only in certain wavelengths, the deposits are not detectable in the crater image (inset).

Large impacts on the Moon can form wide craters and turn surface rock liquid. Geophysicists once assumed that liquid rock would be homogenous when it cooled. Now researchers have found evidence that pre-existing mineralogy can survive impact melt.

Despite the unimaginable energy produced during large impacts on the Moon, those impacts may not wipe the mineralogical slate clean, according to new research led by Brown University geoscientists.

The researchers have discovered a rock body with a distinct mineralogy snaking for 18 miles across the floor of Copernicus crater, a 60-mile-wide hole on the Moon's near side. The sinuous feature appears to bear the mineralogical signature of rocks that were present before the impact that made the crater.

The deposit is interesting because it is part of a sheet of impact melt, the cooled remains of rocks melted during an impact. had long assumed that melt deposits would retain little pre-impact mineralogical diversity.

Large impacts produce giant cauldrons of impact melt that eventually cool and reform into solid rock. The assumption was that the would stir that cauldron thoroughly during the , mixing all the rock types together into an indistinguishable mass. Identifying any pre-impact mineral variation would be a bit like dumping four-course meal into a blender and then trying to pick out the .

But this distinct feature found at Copernicus suggests that pre-existing mineralogy isn't always blended away by the impact process.

"The takeaway here is that impact melt deposits aren't bland," said Deepak Dhingra, a Brown graduate student who led the research. "The implication is that we don't understand the impact cratering process quite as well as we thought."

The findings are published in online early view in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Scientists had long assumed that large impacts on the Moon would wipe out any distinguishable mineralogy that was there before the impact. But a mineralogical feature discovered by researchers at Brown University in Copernicus crater shows that some of that mineralogy can survive. The results may force a rethinking of the cratering process. Credit: NASA/Deepak Dhingra/Brown University

Copernicus is one of the best-studied craters on the Moon, yet this deposit went unnoticed for decades. It was imaging in 83 wavelengths of light in the visible and near-infrared region by the Moon Mapper—M3—that made the deposit stand out like a sore thumb.

M3 orbited the Moon for 10 months during 2008-09 aboard India's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft and mapped nearly the whole lunar surface. Different minerals reflect light in different wavelengths at variable intensities. So by looking at the variation at those wavelengths, it's possible to identify minerals.

In the M3 imaging of Copernicus, the new feature appeared as an area that reflects less light at wavelengths around 900 and 2,000 nanometers, an indicator of minerals rich in magnesium pyroxenes. In the rest of the crater floor, there was a dominant dip beyond 950 nm and 2400 nm, indicating minerals rich in iron and calcium pyroxenes. "That means there are atleast two different mineral compositions within the impact melt, something previously not known for impact melt on the Moon," Dhingra said.

It is not clear exactly how or why this feature formed the way it did, the researchers say. That's an area for future study. But the fact that impact melt isn't always homogenous changes the way geologists look at lunar impact craters.

"These features have preserved signatures of the original target material, providing 'pointers' that lead back to the source region inside the crater," said James W. Head III, the Scherck Distinguished Professor of Geological Sciences and one of the authors of the study. "Deepak's findings have provided new insight into the fundamentals of how the cratering process works. These results will now permit a more rigorous reconstruction of the cratering process to be undertaken."

Carle Pieters, a professor of geological sciences at Brown and the principle investigator of the M3 experiment, was one of the co-authors on the paper, with Peter Isaacson of the University of Hawaii.

Explore further: Informing NASA's Asteroid Initiative: A citizen forum

More information: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10… 2/grl.50255/abstract

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Lurker2358
1 / 5 (7) Apr 02, 2013
Geophysicists once assumed that liquid rock would be homogenous when it cooled. Now researchers have found evidence that pre-existing mineralogy can survive impact melt.

...

Geologists had long assumed that melt deposits would retain little pre-impact mineralogical diversity.


BS. What idiot said that?

Geology 101 shows that minerals have been well known to survive melt events of both astronomical and volcanic origins.

If this is the sort of incompetence that has been in charge of astrophysics then no wonder the science goes nowhere.
MrGrynch
1 / 5 (11) Apr 02, 2013
Or... maybe the impact crater theory is wrong. The electric universe camp has demonstrated the same cratering effects at small scales using electric discharge machining. The effects produced match in almost every way with so-called impact craters. There have been craters observed that are so large, that if it had been an impact, it would have destroyed the moon. With EDM, you would expect the underlying rock structure to be unchanged to a large degree
Lurker2358
3.5 / 5 (11) Apr 02, 2013
EU hypothesis doesn't show any evidence nor a theoretical mechanism to produce such absurdly large electric potentials to create a discharge that larger.

If the craters are from is electric discharges, why don't we observe anything remotely that powerful in modern times?!

Further, a known and proven mechanism of cratering exists, which is observable every day, including the Tunguska event and the more recent event in Russia, which is Meteoroids.

I'm not saying there can't be another mechanism, but if there were any merit to the EU theory as an ongoing natural process then you should be able to predict what causes it, and observe and test it....

You got nothing...
HannesAlfven
1.5 / 5 (13) Apr 02, 2013
Advocates of mainstream melt-based theory for these craters should take a closer look at the central spiral features sometimes observed in these craters. If this is an EDM-based process instead, then the claim being made is that these elevated regions near the centers of the craters were left in place due to rotation. In other words, those structures would presumably retain their earlier stratigraphy.

This would be a great way to check the validity of the melt theory for craters, and it could have enormous cosmological implications, as most cosmic MHD models tend to be idealized simplifications of laboratory plasmas which are not permitted to hold electric fields or transfer electric currents. We already know that these idealizations fail under many situations in space, so finding out exactly how accurate the idealized models are under various cosmic contexts seems like a big, unresolved question for scientists to deploy to question their preferred models.
HannesAlfven
1.3 / 5 (14) Apr 02, 2013
Re: "EU hypothesis doesn't show any evidence nor a theoretical mechanism to produce such absurdly large electric potentials to create a discharge that larger."

Quasi-neutrality simply means equal numbers of charge carriers. It does not mean electrically sterile. The assumption of electrical sterility over cosmic plasma is the result of the application of idealized MHD models. Part of the job of science is to determine if our models are actually correct. After all, laboratory plasmas exhibit the full spectrum of EM properties.

Re: "If the craters are from is electric discharges, why don't we observe anything remotely that powerful in modern times?!"

Great question. Let's ask it using scientific methods! We do see lots of worthwhile hints that the "Gods" of past were associated with lightning. Recall that Zeus holds a lightning bolt -- and not only that, but one which looks nothing like terrestrial lightning. It looks instead like a high-density plasma instability.
HannesAlfven
1.3 / 5 (12) Apr 02, 2013
Re: "Further, a known and proven mechanism of cratering exists, which is observable every day, including the Tunguska event and the more recent event in Russia, which is Meteoroids. I'm not saying there can't be another mechanism, but if there were any merit to the EU theory as an ongoing natural process then you should be able to predict what causes it, and observe and test it...."

Actually, the Deep Impact mission left enough of a hint to justify further investigation that Tempel 1 exhibited a drastically different charge than the Deep Impact impactor. Recall that there were two separate flashes around the time of impact. It's been stated that these were simply the result of the impactor hitting different "layers". But, recall that the impactor was traveling at an incredibly fast velocity. I've seen it suggested that very simple algebra rules out this explanation.

These are not the sorts of questions we should dismiss. Can we blame you afterwards if you turn out to be wrong?
Maggnus
5 / 5 (7) Apr 02, 2013
Great question. Let's ask it using scientific methods! We do see lots of worthwhile hints that the "Gods" of past were associated with lightning. Recall that Zeus holds a lightning bolt -- and not only that, but one which looks nothing like terrestrial lightning. It looks instead like a high-density plasma instability


That's your proof is it!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! ***deep breath** HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!
Lurker2358
1.9 / 5 (9) Apr 02, 2013
That's your proof is it!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! ***deep breath** HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!


I never know if people are really this stupid, or if they're just trolling or playing a prank.
Maggnus
5 / 5 (2) Apr 02, 2013
Wait, so are you saying you believe this ridiculous stupidity?
Lurker2358
2.3 / 5 (6) Apr 02, 2013
Wait, so are you saying you believe this ridiculous stupidity?


No.

Do you?
Laughing Lizard
1 / 5 (9) Apr 02, 2013
The first thing I thought of when I saw this was evidence for Electric Universe. Right or wrong, thank you EU crowd for challenging mainstream physics. Those who are laughing at the idea of moon craters being caused by electrical discharge probably also believe in Dark Matter and Energy, of which we have ZERO physical evidence. At least here is something real and physical that exists in reality that looks like what the EU peeps are predicting. hey, let's investigate that. Isn't that what science is all about?
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (8) Apr 02, 2013
There exists an emerging paradox in physics today. The rise of the physics education research (PER) discipline with its force concept inventory testing has permitted us to see that misconceptions are very widespread today in science. The paradox is that nobody seems to make the link to problems embedded into our scientific textbooks and even our scientific theories. If misconceptions are widespread, then that would necessarily undermine peoples' abilities to think critically about scientific arguments. We can expect in such a case to see a failure to distinguish promising hypotheses from fake science. Many don't even appear to put effort into it. Those tend to also be the loudest on forums.

Joseph Novak has written extensively on the problem that constructivist education reformers face in convincing students to question their textbooks. This is not simply a technical change challenge. It's also an *adaptive* change challenge. Peoples' epistemologies are also at stake.
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (9) Apr 02, 2013
Re: "If the craters are from is electric discharges, why don't we observe anything remotely that powerful in modern times?!"

The fact is that we *DO* see highly electrical events all over the place in the cosmos. The bandwidth of the EM spectrum is many, many orders of magnitude larger than the visible, and synchrotron emissions -- caused by electrons spiraling in magnetic fields -- are actually rather common.

But, the epistemology which is most prevalent in textbooks is that of uniformitarianism. Uniformitarianism involves an *assumption* that we can understand the past by simply observing the present. Hopefully, you see the predicament of measurement here: In the event that large-scale electric discharges become prevalent here in our solar system, they might very well wipe out civilization. We can't actually predict what would happen. Thus, the hypothesis of uniformitarianism is not necessarily testable.

Hint: That means you're *supposed* to question it.
Lurker2358
1 / 5 (9) Apr 02, 2013
Unfortunately, students don't get rewarded, and don't get to graduate, by questioning their text books.

Realistically, students graduate by remembering an answer, and filling in a blank in most subjects, and much of physics and other sciences are the same.
Maggnus
5 / 5 (4) Apr 02, 2013
What a load of puppy turds! Students are encouraged to see beyond the textbooks, not question the basic sciences that are revealed in them. The problem is that misinformed malcontents get the message of seeing beyond the books mixed up with blindly questioning without thoughtful contemplation of what is being presented. It leads to people like Hoagland and Leder and Wallace and Seibrel and other snake oil sales-people being able to hoodwink otherwise intelligent people into believing pseudo-scientific crap like the Electric Universe. The problem is not "mainstream" scientists failure to believe, it is peoples' seeming inability to apply critical thinking skills and logical context to claims that offer little more scientific merit than Shelly's Frankenstien.
Uniformitarianism is a myth perpetuated by those people whose grasp of the underlying scientific principles of modern scientific understanding is tenuous, at best.
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (7) Apr 02, 2013
Re: "Unfortunately, students don't get rewarded, and don't get to graduate, by questioning their text books. Realistically, students graduate by remembering an answer, and filling in a blank in most subjects, and much of physics and other sciences are the same."

This is exactly why there is so much talk of education reform today. What you assess is what you get. The force concept inventory (FCI) is first asked as an open-ended concept-only jargon-free question, before it is implemented as multiple choice. The most common misconceptions are, on later exams, fed back to the students as wrong answers. Since there is no jargon involved, these tests can be given both before and after a semester-long course, in order to observe whether or not students are actually comprehending the material.

Eric Mazur has demonstrated that even at Harvard, 40% of the undergrad physics students can apparently plug-and-chug just fine, but basically fail the FCI! Teaching concepts first fixes this.
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (7) Apr 02, 2013
Re: "Students are encouraged to see beyond the textbooks, not question the basic sciences that are revealed in them."

Students are memorizing. Period. This is NOT controversial. They memorize the problem set routines when professors fail to give concept-oriented tests. Needless to say, concepts-oriented instruction in higher education science has seen a lot of resistance by professors who are more concerned with generating papers. Mazur has shown that basing instruction on concepts can boost problem-solving skills.

Re: "Uniformitarianism is a myth perpetuated by those people whose grasp of the underlying scientific principles of modern scientific understanding is tenuous, at best."

Yes, it also unfortunately happens to be the basis for the discipline of geology.

By the way, in constructivism, there is no requirement that people all agree on controversial subjects. In constructivism, meaning-making occurs within the mind of the student.
Maggnus
5 / 5 (4) Apr 02, 2013
And you, hannes alfven, are an example of what results from such blind questioning of matters you do not even try to understand. Your laughable attempt at presenting as scientific evidence arguments in favour of Wallace's entertaining but outdated premises fails to consider that his book and the theory he presented in it have been left behind in the dust of scientific oddity by the very science he postulated supported his ideas. That you come to this site of science to perpetuate the now pseudo-science that EU and its derivatives has become speaks not to the inflexibility of science, but rather to your inability to comprehend the advancement science has made.
Maggnus
5 / 5 (2) Apr 02, 2013
Students are memorizing. Period. This is NOT controversial.


In HIGHSCHOOL maybe! Even then, and certainly in the latter years, the scientific method of premise-experiment-record-revise is promoted far stronger than any suggestion of conformity to a drone mindset. Well, except in those states whose survival depends on the unquestioning loyalty of the drone. Clearly you have not gone past high school, and certainly have not completed secondary learning, despite the apparent ability to have done so. That makes your contentions even more suspect. And, again, it speaks not to the inflexability of scientists, but rather to your ignorance of the methods used to further the goals of science.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (9) Apr 03, 2013
EU hypothesis doesn't show any evidence nor a theoretical mechanism to produce such absurdly large electric potentials to create a discharge that larger.If the craters are from is electric discharges, why don't we observe anything remotely that powerful in modern times?!
Well, you either aren't paying attention, or it's willful ignorance. Discharges much larger than what is needed occur on a daily basis in our solar system;
http://www.huffin...247.html
Smaller scales as well;
http://rense.com/...lc11.htm
http://thunderbol...ited.htm
If two planetary bodies with different potential, say the Earth and Moon, were to approach each other, a capture event for instance, the EM energy between the two bodies would be discharged just as it is when you grab your door knob. It is however occurring on a planetary scale. The mechanism exists, imagination is the only limitation.
yep
1 / 5 (7) Apr 03, 2013
"Every person takes the limits of their own field of vision for the limits of the world" Authur Schopenhauer.
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (8) Apr 03, 2013
The bodies around me can acquire and trade electrical charge. The manner in which this occurs -- and there are MANY ways -- can change, but on any scale that is pertinent to my reality, electricity happens. And it tends to cause magnetic fields where it does.

So, why is it that when we speak of astrophysical scales -- where magnetic fields are still common -- suddenly it's absurd to suggest that electricity flows?

Can somebody please explain what it is that happens during the transition from our collective reality down here on Earth (aurora, lightning, laboratory plasmas) to the textbook astrophysical theory, at which point different models are required to explain the same phenomena?

Why would anybody ever actually use an "ideal" MHD model, anyways? What is the point of it? From what I can tell, it's to simplify the calculation and computation. But, what assumptions are made along the way?

Questioning the models that we make is an important part of the process of science.
Maggnus
5 / 5 (1) Apr 03, 2013
The mechanism exists, imagination is the only limitation.


The mechanism exists only in your imagination. How's that sunspot to earthquake thing working out for you there gullible? You should go read Hoagland's stuff, you'll find lots of people who will welcome your tin foil hat stuff there.
Maggnus
5 / 5 (3) Apr 03, 2013
Can somebody please explain what it is that happens during the transition from our collective reality down here on Earth (aurora, lightning, laboratory plasmas) to the textbook astrophysical theory, at which point different models are required to explain the same phenomena?


Go finish high school, then enroll in university courses on physics. You can find your own answer, if you just give it a try.

The problem you have with the questions you ask is that you so misunderstand the science you question that your questions don't make any sense. If you are going to question our current best understandings of the universe around us, at least take some time to learn what the hell you are trying to question.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (7) Apr 03, 2013
The mechanism exists, imagination is the only limitation.


The mechanism exists only in your imagination. How's that sunspot to earthquake thing working out for you there gullible? You should go read Hoagland's stuff, you'll find lots of people who will welcome your tin foil hat stuff there.

Fortunately, for the rest of us using modern technology, science has found a great many uses for EDM. From metal fabrication to semiconductor manufacturing and many in between it is a common manufacturing process used daily across the planet to help provide society the technology we depend on. Are you still using the iCup-n-Wire device to connect to the internet?
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (8) Apr 03, 2013
Re: "The problem you have with the questions you ask is that you so misunderstand the science you question that your questions don't make any sense."

No, it's very clear what has happened. The conventional theories emerged from a mechanistic view of the universe where the dominant forms of matter in the universe were assumed to be gases, solids and liquids. When it was proposed that radio waves were originating from the Milky Way, astrophysicists suggested that it was either an error or a hoax. With the advent of probes in the 50's, we also discovered that the universe's dominant state of matter is in fact plasma. Since then, we've further observed that magnetic fields are associated with galaxies and even the interstellar matter between them. More recently, Gerrit Verschuur has observed that much of the interstellar matter is highly filamentary, and even exhibits critical ionization velocities at the knots in these filaments. That would seem to indicate charge flow.
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (8) Apr 03, 2013
George Parks has written a couple of papers on the idealizations of these magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) models ... One titled "Why Space Needs to Go Beyond the MHD Box" and another "Importance of Electric Fields in Modeling Space Plasmas".

From the first ...

"Serious objections have been raised from the beginning of the space era about the application of MHD theory to collisionless space plasmas (Chamberlain, 1960; Lemaire and Scherer, 1973; Heikkila, 1973, 1997; Alfvén, 1977; Scudder, 1997; Lui, 2001; Song and Lysak, 2001). Although it is well-known that MHD theory is applicable only to a restricted class of plasma problems of which collisionless plasmas are not a part (Krall and Trivelpiece, 1973), MHD and ideal MHD theories have been used in space without due regard to these restrictions. MHD theory is useful in the lower ionosphere and lower solar corona where plasmas are collision dominated. However, plasmas in the solar wind and magnetosphere are collisionless ..."
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (8) Apr 03, 2013
Going on (w/o references) ...

"Another issue in space physics is treating MHD fluids as ideal ... Ideal fluids have infinite conductivity (zero resistance) and the implicit charge mobility prevents them from supporting any electric field. The ideal fluid was originally conceptualized by Alfvén (1953) to study how MHD waves would behave if conductivity were imagined to be infinite. In such an ideal limit, magnetic fields would become frozen in the fluid. However, the frozen-in-field concept requires the strict criterion E · B = 0 which is not always satisfied in space ... This criterion is violated in Earth's ionosphere where E|| has been observed ... , in the vicinity of the magnetopause where it has been shown that the ion and electron motions are decoupled and thus the frozen-in-field condition is violated ..., in the plasma sheet during substorms when large variations of the magnetic field are observed to generate new inductive currents and in the solar corona ..."
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (7) Apr 03, 2013
Of course, the irony of Alfven's lifetime of research into plasmas is that he would go on to distance himself from the way in which conventional astrophysicists were applying these models he created. And everybody is free to review his Nobel acceptance speech for his creation of MHD, where he advises against these mistakes.

But, it would seem that rather than learning of the controversies of science, people who memorize science are generally more interested in hearing how AWESOME science is. After all, they put all of this work into memorizing it! And there is a certain lure to the MYSTERY of invisible matters and forces. The idea that we can explain such enigmas with fixes to how we model cosmic plasmas seems to lack the popular storyline of science as a straight, uninterrupted roadmap to a theory of everything.

Cosmology and astrophysics should be more than a story which makes us feel good about ourselves. We should also expect the models to be accurate and effective.
Maggnus
5 / 5 (2) Apr 03, 2013
Holy crap HA, you been typing to yourself all afternoon? What, overwhelm the opposition to your support of quackery with pages of more extensive explanations of the quackery?

The conventional theories emerged from a mechanistic view of the universe where the dominant forms of matter in the universe were assumed to be gases, solids and liquids.


And before that, it emerged from the idea that there were four elements that interacted to form everything. What possible connection does that have to what is known now? Do you not get that science moves forward?

Your little history revision leaves out much more than it includes. What, do you copy and post the teachings of Wallace in hopes of simply numbing the reader? You are absolutely wrong when you assert that somehow MHD is not considered in the current standard cosmology, and wrong again when you alledge that electrical phenomonae is not considered as well. You're leaning on ancient teachings that take advantage of your cont
Maggnus
5 / 5 (2) Apr 03, 2013
your ignorance and misunderstandings. What do you think you accomplish by copying and pasting material written for a site that constantly gets its predictions wrong? Do you understand the tripe you've posted?
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (6) Apr 03, 2013
You are absolutely wrong when you assert that somehow MHD is not considered in the current standard cosmology,

It's no wonder you misunderstand the theory, you can't even understand a few posts on this thread. Hannes was quite clear in pointing out the misuse of MHD, which you seem to acknowledge but do not even understand. Brilliance in action!
yep
2 / 5 (8) Apr 04, 2013
"We'd like to believe that most of what we know is accurate and that if presented with facts to prove we're wrong, we would sheepishly accept the truth and change our views accordingly.
A new body of research out of the University of Michigan suggests that's not what happens, that we base our opinions on beliefs and when presented with contradictory facts, we adhere to our original belief even more strongly. The phenomenon is called backfire, and it plays an especially important role in how we shape and solidify our beliefs " Neal Conan
The ego clings on with a great tenacity to those "truths"
yep
1.4 / 5 (10) Apr 04, 2013
"The vast majority of people find it much easier to believe than to think. Their mental processes and their activities are governed less by logical deductions from observed facts than by the remembered shibboleths of forgotten grandmothers". (or college professors) Alfred M. Still
In the eighteenth century religion and science were separate now science established is religion. Questions and ideas label you as a heretic and a fool, with the priests of secondary education and acceptable knowledge keeping everyone in line. Bow before the almighty priori science as it is the only truth and we have made it so.