Lunar and Planetary Institute

Tsiolkovsky Central Peak Flyover


Crater Tsiolkovsky, a late Imbrian (3.8-3.2 billion years) aged crater has a diameter of 185 km and lies on the lunar far side (20šS 129šE). It is one of few locations on the far side showing extensive exposure of mare basalt. The central peak of this crater is approximately 20 km across. The numerous faces of this huge mountain have exposed lithologies which are believed to be pristine and have been brought from great depth. In this case, the peak represents materials from a depth of about 30 km. Central peaks are therefore, an ideal probe to decipher the subsurface composition. The peak of crater Tsiolkovsky has shown signatures of crystalline anorthosite and possibly olivine at some locations. Some of it may represent the lunar primary crust owing to crater location on the far side where crust is much thicker and therefore the possibility of its preservation is large.

The peak covering an approximate area of about 400 square kilometers and its surroundings including mare filled floor and nearby crater rim with impact melts provide an excellent opportunity for future missions to scan the entire stratigraphic sequence and probably date some of the horizons. The flyover provides a realistic view of the elevations, relative distances between different peak units and local morphology in terms of features and slope variations. These form an essential component in mission planning and would be useful for future missions.


The flyover for the central peak was generated in ESRI ArcGIS using ArcMAP, ArcScan and ArcScene environments. Scanned versions of Lunar Topographic Orthophotomaps (LTO-101B2, LTO-101B3) were geo-referenced in GIS environment and contours were digitized from these maps using ArcScan utility. A Triangulated Irregular Network or TIN was generated using the digitized contours providing a 3-D view of the scene without the actual image of an area. In order to make it more realistic, a high resolution version of Apollo 15 image (AS15-M-1574) of the area was draped onto this 3-D model after geo-referencing it with the contour framework.

Subsequently, snapshots of the 3-D image were collected from different perspectives to see the overall setting of the central peak region and surrounding mare basalt. This was converted into a seamless movie sequence by interpolation between snapshots in ArcScene.

Please note that the white spots in the shadow of the hill are artifacts that creeped in while generating the DEM.


This flyover was generated under the Visiting Scientist Program at LPI in April 2009. This project was led by Deepak Dhingra, Visiting Scientist at LPI from Physical Research Laboratory, India*. It also involved active support from Brian Fessler (LPI) and scientific inputs from David Kring (LPI). Support for the program was provided by LPI.

* Now at Brown University, RI (USA)


Mary Ann Hager (LPI) for scanning and providing Hi-Res images of Tsiolkovsky Region. Shashikant Sharma, ISRO for software support.


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