The Marius Hills represent a region of the Moon affected by volcanism, which means it is an area rich with volcanic landforms. When basalt erupted on the lunar surface, some of it flowed in lava tubes (like the eruptions around Flagstaff, Arizona, that has modified the terrain there over the past 6 million years). When a volcanic eruption ceases, lava in the tubes is partially to completely drained, leaving an empty underground tube. The SELENE Terrain Camera (TC) and Multi-band Imager (MI) may have identified a 65 meter diameter skylight (or hole) that penetrates a lava tube. The depth of that hole has been estimated to be 80 to 88 meters and the width of the lava tube has been estimated to be wider than a few hundred meters (both of which are dimensions far larger than lava tubes in the Flagstaff, Arizona, region). The lunar surface is also cross-cut with channels called rilles that are related to flowing lava. The Apollo 15 astronauts visited a now-famous example called the Hadley Rille. There are several rilles and volcanic source craters for the lava in the Marius Hills area. The flyover produced by JAXA begins by approaching the potential skylight in a lava tube and circles above it. Then the viewer is carried over a rille towards the east. The course changes towards the north and approaches another rille, before crossing a hilly region that contains several volcanic domes. Those domes, the Marius Hills, are an attractive site for future exploration. After flying around the domes, the viewer swings back towards the potential skylight in a lava tube where the flyover began.
The imagery for this virtual flyover comes from the KAGUYA Terrain Camera (TC). The TC is a push-broom stereoscopic imager with forward-looking and aft-looking optical heads with slant angles of ± 15° from nadir. The spatial resolution of TC is 10 m/pixel from the KAGUYA nominal altitude of 100 km. The digital terrain model underlying the virtual flyover is derived from the TC stereoscopic imagery of the region. For more information about the Terrain Camera (TC) please visit JAXA's KAGUYA website.
Imaging for the geologic description above was also provided by the KAGUYA Multi-band Imager (MI). For more information about the Multi-band Imager (MI) and other KAGUYA instruments please visit JAXA's KAGUYA website.
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