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The Effects of Terrain Properties Upon the Small Crater Population Distribution at Giordano Bruno: Implications for Lunar Chronology

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The distribution of impact craters on the ejecta of Giordano Bruno, a recent (<10 Ma) 22-km diameter crater within the lunar highlands, exhibits substantial variations. We surveyed craters D ≥ 10 m across a 1,323 km2 area of Giordano Bruno's ejecta and compared the distribution of craters with variations in thermophysical properties derived from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Diviner instrument. We used Diviner-derived rock abundance and nighttime regolith temperatures along with thermal model-predicted surface temperatures for a diversity of terrains to identify and isolate areas of the ejecta based on thermophysical properties such as bulk density and thermal conductivity. We found that thermophysical properties of the ejecta vary considerably both laterally and vertically, and consistently differ from typical regolith, indicating the presence of higher thermal inertia materials. Crater-size frequencies are significantly lower in areas with terrain properties exhibiting higher: rock abundance, nighttime temperatures, and/or modeled thermal inertia. This discrepancy in crater distribution increases for craters smaller than ∼25 m. These thermophysical variations indicate changes in the mechanical properties of the target materials. We suggest that these variations-specifically, terrain-dependent crater scaling variations and impactor-scale heterogeneities in material properties such as the presence or absence of large boulders-may influence crater diameters or inhibit crater production altogether in Giordano Bruno's ejecta; furthermore, these factors are size-dependent.

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