Numerical modelling of impact crater formation associated with isolated lunar skylight candidates on lava tubes

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Planetary and Space Science


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Skylights are openings on subsurface voids as lava tubes and caves. Recently deep hole structures, possibly skylights, were discovered on lunar photo images by the JAXA SELenological and ENgineering Explorer (SELENE)-Kaguya mission, and successively confirmed by the NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission. Vertical hole structures and possibly underlying subsurface voids have high potential as resources for scientific study, and future unmanned and manned activities on the Moon. One mechanism proposed for their formation is impact cratering. The collapse of craters is due to the back spallation phenomena on the rear surface of the lava tube roofs. Previous analysis in this topic was based on small-scales laboratory experiments. These have pointed out that (i) the target thickness-to-crater diameter ratio is 0.7, and (ii) the projectile diameter-to-target thickness ratio is 0.16, at the ballistic limit once extrapolated to planetary conditions.


Moon, Numerical modelling, Impact craters, Skylights, Lava tubes, Space exploration

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