Astronomy Picture of the Day
August 23, 2012

Features of Tsiolkovskiy Crater (from AS 8-14-2450)
Features of Tsiolkovskiy Crater (from AS 8-14-2450)

Credits: NASA/JPL-Apollo 8 Crew - Lunar and Planetary Institute; additional process.: Dr Paolo C. Fienga/LXTT/IPF

Tsiolkovskiy is a very large Lunar Impact Crater that is located on the Far Side of the Moon. It lies in the Southern Hemisphere, to the West of the Crater Gagarin, and to the North-West of Milne while, just to the South, Crater Waterman can be found, with Neujmin to the South-South/West.

The Crater Tsiolkovskiy was first seen on photographs sent back to Earth by the Soviet Spacecraft, Luna 3. The NASA - Apollo 17 Astronaut Harrison "Jack" Schmitt (as well as other Scientists - as a matter of fact, Schmitt was the only trained Scientist, a Geologist, that has walked on the Moon so far...) strongly advocated Tsiolkovskiy as the Apollo 17's, or a later flight's (which, unfortunately, were all canceled), Landing Site, and using small Communications Satellites deployed from the Command Service Module (CSM) for communication from the Far Side of the Moon. But NASA - and we like to repeat it: UNFORTUNATELY! - vetoed the idea as too risky, and the Apollo 17 Lunar Module, instead, landed in the Taurus-Littrow Valley on December 11, 1972.

Tsiolkovskiy, however, is one of the most prominent Surface Features that can be be found on the Southern Hemisphere of the Moon. It possesses extremely high and terraced Inner Walls, as well as a well-formed Central Peak. On the other hand, the Floor of Tsiolkovskiy is unusual for a Crater located on the Far Side of the Moon, as it is covered by the "Dark-hued Mare Material (---> Lava)" that is, instead and as you know, a widespread characteristic of the Lunar Maria found on the Near Side of our only Natural Satellite. The distribution of the Mare Material on Tsiolkovskiy's Floor, however, is not symmetrical but, instead, it is way more heavily concentrated to the East and South of the Crater itself.

It is to be noticed that there is also a protruding Bay of darker Material that reaches the Inner Wall of Tsiolkovskiy to the West-North/West. Last, but not least, rhe remainder of the Floor has the same Albedo (---> Reflectivity) as the Terrain surrounding the Crater. Tsiolkovskiy Crater also protrudes into the neighbouring Crater Fermi which, unlike Tsiolkovskiy, does not possess a Lava-flooded Floor.

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