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Mare Humorum

Mare Humorum

Date: 07 July 2006
Satellite: SMART-1
Copyright: ESA/SMART-1/Space-X (Space Exploration Institute)

This mosaic of three images, taken by the advanced Moon Imaging Experiment (AMIE) on board ESA's SMART-1 spacecraft, shows Mare Humorum on the Moon.
AMIE obtained the top frame on 1 January 2006, from a distance of 1087 kilometres from the surface, with a ground resolution of 98 metres per pixel. The remaining two frames were taken on 13 January 2006, from a distance of about 1069 (centre) and 1050 kilometres (bottom) from the surface, with a ground resolution of 97 and 95 metres per pixel, respectively.

The area shown in the top image is centred at a longitude of 40.2° West and latitude 25.9° South; the centre image is centred at a longitude of 40.2° West and latitude 27.3° South; the bottom image is centred at a longitude of 40.2° West and latitude 28.8° South. 
Mare Humorum, or Sea of Moisture, is one of the smaller circular maria on the lunar nearside, about 825 kilometres across. The mountains surrounding it mark the edge of an old impact basin which has been flooded and filled by mare lavas. These lavas also extend past the basin rim in several places. In the upper right are several such flows which extend northwest into southern Oceanus Procellarum.

Mare Humorum was not sampled by the Apollo program, so its precise age could not been determined yet. However, geologic mapping indicates that its age lies in between that of the Imbrium and the Nectaris basins, suggesting an age of about 3.9 ± 0.5 thousand million years. 
Humorum is filled with a thick layer of mare basalt, believed to exceed 3 kilometres in thickness at the centre of the basin. On the north edge of Mare Humorum is the large crater Gassendi, which was considered as a possible landing site for Apollo 17.

Mare Humorum is a scientifically interesting area because it allows the study of the relationships among lunar mare filling, mare basin tectonics, and global thermal evolution to the major mascon maria – regions of the Moon's crust which contain a large amount of material with a density higher than average for that area (Solomon, Head, 1980).

Past studies (Budney, Lucey) revealed that craters in mare Humorum sometimes excavate highland material, allowing to estimate the thickness from below the mare cover. From this, it was also possible to determine that the multiring structure of the Humorum basin has a diameter of 425 kilometres (results based on the US Clementine global topography data).

In general, the chronology of lunar volcanism is based on the radiometric ages determined from landing site samples from the Apollo and Luna missions, from the study of the relationship between the stratigraphy (layering of deposits) in different regions, and from the analysis of lunar craters – how they degraded over time and how their distribution in number and size varies over the Moon's surface. From crater statistics, Hiesinger et al. (2000) found that in Humorum there was a peak of eruptions at about 3.3 to 3.5 thousand million years ago.

The images in this mosaic are raw data and no flat field or other corrections have been applied.

Parameter Top image Centre Image Bottom Image
Date 1 January 2006 13 January 2006 13 January 2006
Distance 1087 km 1069 km 1050 km
Longitude 40.2° W 40.2° W 40.2° W
Latitude 25.9° S 27.3° S 28.8° S
Resolution 98 m/pixel 97 m/pixel 95 m/pixel

Last Update: 1 September 2019
21-Jun-2024 14:50 UT

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