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A sortie mission to Schrödinger Basin as reconnaissance for future exploration

By
Melissa K. Bunte
Melissa K. Bunte
School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona 85287, USA
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Simon Porter
Simon Porter
School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona 85287, USA
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Mark S. Robinson
Mark S. Robinson
School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona 85287, USA
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Published:
December 01, 2011

The Schrödinger impact basin near the southern pole on the lunar farside (134°E, 75°S) is a young multiring impact basin, and it is well preserved and exposed for scientific study. A crewed sortie-reconnaissance mission to Schrödinger Basin would allow (1) collection of samples in order to obtain an absolute age date for the Schrödinger impact event and to constrain the ages of volcanic events, (2) detailed analysis of pyroclastic materials that mantle the basin's impact melt sheet, (3) study of lunar explosive volcanism mechanics, and (4) installation of a passive seismic array for study of interior activity. The region's diversity of geologic materials and features make it a prime target for human and robotic exploration. A landing site located within the pyroclastic deposit (139.6°E, 75.7°S) allows access to the volcanic vent and inner ring of the basin. Sampling the inner ring, which may be composed of South Pole–Aitken Basin uplift material, would allow absolute dating of the South Pole–Aitken Basin event. Engineering objectives necessary for extending surface stay time for sortie missions or a lunar outpost can be met at this locale. Pyroclastic material is optimal for in situ oxygen production. Demonstrating oxygen production and storage at the landing site would prove technologies for an outpost and leave a cache of consumables for use by future longer-term expeditions. Mission planning is based on Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, Lunar Orbiter, Clementine, and SELENE mission data. Extravehicular activities necessary for completing the science objectives require long traverses (24 km and 7.5 h per traverse) for a four-member crew over a 4 d mission.

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Contents

GSA Special Papers

Analogs for Planetary Exploration

W. Brent Garry
W. Brent Garry
Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona, USA
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Jacob E. Bleacher
Jacob E. Bleacher
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Planetary Geodynamics Lab, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA
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Geological Society of America
Volume
483
ISBN print:
9780813724836
Publication date:
December 01, 2011

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