The moon's surface with craters. Credit: PhotoDisc/ Getty Images

A study reveals the unique morphological features and mineral deposits of impact craters in the Moon’s equatorial and polar regions1. This provides new insights into the current lunar landscape and its evolutionary history.

Meteorites bombarded the Moon, forming thousands of craters that cover its surface. To better understand these, scientists at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi analysed images captured by high-resolution instruments on-board Chandrayaan-1 and NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The researchers, led by Saumitra Mukherjee, focused on six craters in the mare and highland regions of the Moon. Of these, they minutely studied the Cardanus and Krafft craters in the mare region.

The Cardanus crater consists of unique features including a central mound, hummocky unit, ejecta material, fractures and smooth floors. The fractures are polygonal in structure and cover the crater floor in all directions. High-energy cosmic particles, mainly protons, get trapped in the fractures, which might result in hydroxyl deposition that creates a reservoir of hydroxyl minerals.

The team found that the Cardanus surface is rich in pyroxene and feldspathic minerals, while the Krafft crater surface has the presence of clinopyroxene–olivine mixture. Both craters belong to the same geological age – late Imbrium period.

This study will increase understanding of moon formation and its correlation with Earth’s geology. It has also helped to identify four locations that could be used as landing sites for future Moon missions, the researchers say.