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Post Info TOPIC: Lunar Impact Bombardment


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Late heavy bombardment
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Title: Cataclysm no more: New views on the timing and delivery of lunar impactors
Author: Nicolle E. B. Zellner

If properly interpreted, the impact record of the Moon, Earth's nearest neighbour, can be used to gain insights into how the Earth has been influenced by impacting events since its formation ~4.5 billion years (Ga) ago. However, the nature and timing of the lunar impactors - and indeed the lunar impact record itself - are not well understood. Of particular interest are the ages of lunar impact basins and what they tell us about the proposed "lunar cataclysm" and/or the late heavy bombardment (LHB), and how this impact episode may have affected early life on Earth or other planets. Investigations of the lunar impactor population over time have been undertaken and include analyses of orbital data and images; lunar, terrestrial, and other planetary sample data; and dynamical modelling. Here, the existing information regarding the nature of the lunar impact record is reviewed and new interpretations are presented. Importantly, it is demonstrated that most evidence supports a prolonged lunar (and thus, terrestrial) bombardment from ~4.2 to 3.4 Ga and not a cataclysmic spike at ~3.9 Ga. Implications for the conditions required for the origin of life are addressed.

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RE: Lunar Impact Bombardment
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Grail satellites show Moon's violent history

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The scale of the battering the Moon received early in its history has been revealed in remarkable new data from two Nasa satellites.
Ebb and Flow - together known as the Grail mission - have mapped the subtle variations in gravity across the surface of the lunar body.

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Posts: 131433
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Lunar Bombardment
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Title: A Sawtooth-like Timeline for the First Billion Year of Lunar Bombardment
Authors: Alessandro Morbidelli, Simone Marchi, William F. Bottke, David A. Kring

We revisit the early evolution of the Moon's bombardment. Our work combines modelling (based on plausible projectile sources and their dynamical decay rates) with constraints from the lunar crater record, radiometric ages of the youngest lunar basins, and the abundance of highly siderophile elements in the lunar crust and mantle. We deduce that the evolution of the impact flux did not decline exponentially over the first billion years of lunar history, but also there was no prominent and "narrow" impact spike some 3.9 Gy ago, unlike that typically envisioned in the lunar cataclysm scenario. Instead, we show the timeline of the lunar bombardment has a sawtooth-like profile, with an uptick in the impact flux near 4.1 Gy ago. The impact flux at the beginning of this weaker cataclysm was 5-10 times higher than the immediately preceding period. The Nectaris basin should have been one of the first basins formed at the sawtooth. We predict the bombardment rate since about 4.1Gy ago declined slowly and adhered relatively close to classic crater chronology models (Neukum and Ivanov (1994)). Overall we expect that the sawtooth event accounted for about 1/4 of the total bombardment suffered by the Moon since its formation. Consequently, considering that about 12-14 basins formed during the sawtooth event, we expect that the net number of basins formed on the Moon was about 45-50. From our expected bombardment timeline, we derived a new and improved lunar chronology suitable for use on Pre-Nectarian surface units. According to this chronology, a significant portion of the oldest lunar cratered terrains has an age of 4.38-4.42 Gyr. Moreover, the largest lunar basin, South Pole Aitken, is older than 4.3Gy, and therefore was not produced during the lunar cataclysm.

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Lunar Impact Bombardment
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Title: Chronology and Sources of Lunar Impact Bombardment
Authors: Matija Cuk

The Moon has suffered intense impact bombardment ending at 3.9 Gyr ago, and this bombardment probably affected all of the inner Solar System. Basin magnetisation signatures and lunar crater size-distributions indicate that the last episode of bombardment at about 3.85 Gyr ago was less extensive than previously thought. We explore the contribution of the primordial Mars-crosser population to early lunar bombardment. We find that Mars-crosser population initially decays with a 80-Myr half-life, with the long tail of survivors clustering on temporarily non-Mars-crossing orbits between 1.8 and 2 AU. These survivors decay with half-life of about 600 Myr and are progenitors of the extant Hungaria asteroid group in the same region. We estimate the primordial Mars-crosser population contained about 0.01-0.02 Earth masses. Such initial population is consistent with no lunar basins forming after 3.8 Gya and the amount of mass in the Hungaria group. As they survive longer and in greater numbers than other primordial populations, Mars-crossers are the best candidate for forming the majority of lunar craters and basins, including most of the Nectarian system. However, this remnant population cannot produce Imbrium and Orientale basins, which formed too late and are too large to be part of a smooth bombardment. We propose that the Imbrian basins and craters formed in a discrete event, consistent with the basin magnetisation signatures and crater size-distributions. This late "impactor shower" would be triggered by a collisional disruption of a Vesta-sized body from this primordial Mars-crossing population (Wetherill, 1975) that was still comparable to the present-day asteroid belt a 3.9 Gya. This tidal disruption lead to a short-lived spike in bombardment by non-chondritic impactors with a non-asteroidal size-frequency distribution, in agreement with available evidence.

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