Lunar Science and Exploration
Center for Lunar Science and Exploration

Sampling the Lunar Farside in the South Pole-Aitken's Schrödinger Basin


Introduction by

David A. Kring

The lunar farside — that mysterious face of the Moon hidden from Earth – contains a cache of clues about how the Earth formed, how planets evolved, and how volcanic and impact cratering processes reshaped the Solar System.  The farside of the Moon holds the key to the earliest bombardment of the Earth and whether impact cratering processes were involved in the origin and earliest evolution of life on Earth.

The oldest and largest impact basin on the Moon is nearly 2,500 kilometers in diameter and stretches from the South Pole to a tiny crater called Aitken.  This South Pole-Aitken basin (also called SPA basin) is one of the leading targets for human and human-assisted robotic exploration.  A particularly rich scientific and exploration target within that basin is the Schrödinger basin, about 320 kilometers in diameter, and located towards the south polar end of the South Pole-Aitken basin. 

Scientists and engineers are already designing the methods for a mission to Schrödinger that collects samples and brings their extraordinary secrets back to Earth for study.  To give you a perspective of this mission, we have created a video and soundtrack (above) that carries you to the Moon, around the South Pole-Aitken basin, and to a first landing site within the Schrödinger basin.  We hope this is the first step in an exhilarating mission of discovery.

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Downloads can be streamed by clicking on the options below.  For best viewing, however, you may want to right click, save the link to your own computer, and then play the file from your computer

MP4 (HD 1920p, 348M )
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A second version of this video and soundtrack (below) has been generated to illustrate the mission elements of a farside sample return mission.  This version contains the Orion vehicle, which is the spacecraft that will carry astronauts to the Moon, and a robotic rover that can collect samples for return to Earth.   It also illustrates the orbit of the Orion vehicle and the rendezvous that occurs between the Orion vehicle and a robotic ascent vehicle with lunar surface samples.   Scenes in the video are based on a published study of a robotic rover's traverse to collect samples in the Schrodinger basin (Potts et al., 2015, Advances in Space Research, v. 55, pp. 1241-1254) and a published study of the Orion's orbit along with the communication that occurs between the Orion vehicle, the robotic asset, and Earth (Pratt et al., 2014, International Astronautical Congress paper IAC-14-A5.1.7, 18 pages).



Option for download

MP4 (HD 1920p, 348M )



This flyover was conceptualized and produced by Dr. David A. Kring.  The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera data was assembled and rendered by Dr. Debra M. Hurwitz.  Modeling and animation were implemented by John Blackwell.  The music on the sound track is Darkest Night by Pond5 and used with permission.




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