Luminous Pierazzo Crater

view of round, deep lunar crater, with light-colored, radially streaked inner wall
NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University
CreditNASA/GSFC/Arizona State University
Historical DateDecember 1, 2017
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This lunar farside rayed crater imaged by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is named after planetary scientist Elisabetta “Betty” Pierazzo (1963-2011). Betty studied impact cratering, including the production of impact melt, so this 5.8-mile (9.3 kilometer) diameter crater with abundant impact melt was well chosen to honor Pierazzo. It is located within the north-northwestern extent of ejecta surrounding the Orientale impact basin.

This oblique image was acquired late in 2017, and required the spacecraft to roll 65° towards the limb; due to the curvature of the Moon, the viewing angle of the crater is actually 74°. This geometry is similar to viewing the distant landscape out of an airplane window, except that the Moon does not have an atmosphere that results in the hazy distant views seen on Earth. The opening image shows a reduced-scale view of the bright crater cavity and some of the ejecta. There is dark material on the crater ejecta and interior with linear and flow-like patterns. This dark material consists of lunar rocks that were melted by the very high-speed impact event, flowed in places, and then froze into dark glassy deposits.