Geological Characteristics of Von Kármán Crater, Northwestern South Pole‐Aitken Basin: Chang’E‐4 Landing Site Region

Abstract:Von Kármán crater (diameter = ~186 km), lying in the northwestern South Pole‐Aitken (SPA) basin, was formed in the pre‐Nectarian. The Von Kármán crater floor was subsequently flooded with one or several generations of mare basalts during the Imbrian period. Numerous subsequent impact craters in the surrounding region delivered ejecta to the floor, together forming a rich sample of the SPA basin and farside geologic history. We studied in details the targeted landing region (45.0–46.0°S, 176.4–178.8°E) of the 2018 Chinese lunar mission Chang’E‐4, within the Von Kármán crater. The topography of the landing region is generally flat at a baseline of ~60 m. Secondary craters and ejecta materials have covered most of the mare unit and can be traced back to at least four source craters (Finsen, Von Kármán L, Von Kármán L’, and Antoniadi) based on preferential spatial orientations and crosscutting relationships. Extensive sinuous ridges and troughs are identified spatially related to Ba Jie crater (diameter = ~4 km). Reflectance spectral variations due to difference in both composition and physical properties are observed among the ejecta from various‐sized craters on the mare unit. The composition trends were used together with crater scaling relationships and estimates of regolith thickness to reconstruct the subsurface stratigraphy. The results reveal a complex geological history of the landing region and set the framework for the in situ measurements of the CE‐4 mission, which will provide unique insights into the compositions of farside mare basalt, SPA compositional zone including SPA compositional anomaly and Mg‐pyroxene annulus, regolith evolution, and the lunar space environment.