Transitional Lava Flows As Potential Analogues for Lunar Impact Melts

Monday, 15 December 2014: 11:20 AM
Catherine Neish, Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, FL, United States
Lunar impact melts appear to be some of the roughest materials on the Moon at the centimeter scale, even though they appear smooth at the meter scale. These characteristics are unlike any terrestrial analogues yet studied, such as Hawaiian pahoehoe and a’a lava flows. The morphology of impact melt flows can be related to their emplacement conditions and melt properties through thermo-rheological models, so understanding the origin of these unique surface properties will inform us as to the conditions at which they were emplaced. In collaboration with the SSERVI FINESSE team, I am investigating the surface properties of several transitional lava types (e.g., rubbly pahoehoe) at Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho. I compare AIRSAR radar images of a range of lava flows to ground-based and high-resolution aerial imagery, for comparison to Mini-RF and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) images of impact melts on the Moon. In the process, I will identify appropriate terrestrial analogues for these unusual materials, helping us to understand their emplacement conditions. Information about the surface properties of impact melt will also be critical for any future landed missions that wish to sample these materials on terrestrial planets.