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Implications of the Surveyor 7 results

Authors

  • R. A. Phinney,

  • J. A. O'Keefe,

  • J. B. Adams,

  • D. E. Gault,

  • G. P. Kuiper,

  • H. Masursky,

  • R. J. Collins,

  • E. M. Shoemaker


Abstract

The chemical and television data from the Surveyor 7 mission are discussed. The significance of the α-scattering analysis is found to depend on whether the flow unit underlying the spacecraft was laid down by mass flow at the time of the Tycho-forming impact. The chemical composition of the site is significantly lower in Fe than the composition of the previously analyzed mare sites; no other resolvable distinctions can be made. The higher albedo of the highlands is attributed to the lower iron content in the silicate minerals. By assigning the atomic composition to minerals common in basaltic rocks, we estimate-the highland rock density to be 3.0 and the mare density to be 3.2. The densities may be incorporated into a discussion of recent information on the gravitational field of the moon, yielding estimates of crustal thickness in the highlands around 30 to 50 km. A number of television pictures of rocks and fragments are shown, and we offer some suggestions about the type and origin of these objects. They compose a heterogeneous population in which the brighter rocks seem to be more resistant to mechanical breakdown than the dark rocks. The characteristics of the fine-grained component of the surface mantle are found to be similar to those at earlier Surveyor sites. The process of eroding exposed rocks and covering them with a blanket of fine particles appears to be relatively less advanced than at the sites previously studied; A bright line of light was seen on the western horizon after sunset, as was observed during Surveyor 5 and 6; this rather puzzling phenomenon is discussed again.

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