May 13, 2004

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A New/Old Catalog of Lunar Craters


Image Credit: C.A. Wood

A New/Old Catalog of Lunar Craters

From 1969 thru 1973 I led the day to day cataloging of lunar craters at the Lunar & Planetary Lab in Tucson. Working under the initial direction of Dai Arthur I supervised a small team of undergraduates who measured crater diameters and shadow lengths to compile a list of positions, diameters, depths and characterizations of sharpness and morphology of nearside lunar craters. Unlike previous cataloging efforts we made our measurements and interpretations on large prints of the Lunar Orbiter 4 images. About the time I left to teach in Africa in 1973 a young post-doctoral researcher, Leif Anderson, came to complete the project. Leif reprogrammed the calculation of depths from our shadow measurements and led the cataloging of the farside. The lunar nearside was complete in 1973 and was to have been published with Wood and Andersson as the authors - even a NASA publication number was given. Somehow the catalog was never published. Tragically, Leif unexpectedly died just before completing the NASA Catalogue of Lunar Nomenclature, coauthored with Ewen Whitaker. The NCLN was based on the unpublished Wood & Andersson work, Leif's measurements of farside craters, and Ewen's development and implementation of a scheme for farside lettered crater designations. And for the last 30 years most of the results of the Wood & Andersson project have lain dormant. In fact, some of the work appears to be lost. Fortunately, I have ancient printouts of most of the near side catalog. I intend to transcribe information from the fading printouts to an Excel spreadsheet and publish it online. A sample is given above. I would not have had the energy to start this without the recent digital reprinting of the Andersson and Whitaker NCLN by Jonathan McDowell, whom I greatly thank! And Leif's work was commemorated by having a farside crater named for him.

Technical Details:
The NCLN includes information in the first five columns. Information added from the unpublished Wood and Andersson catalog includes crater class (1 = sharp rimmed, fresh, to 5 = ruin hardly recognizable as a crater), crater type (morphological summary from various types of simple craters to complex ones). The crater diameter in km was given in NCLM but only to the nearest kilometer. We measured craters to the nearest 0.01 km and here I give diameters to 0.1 km for craters < 10 km. Crater depth was one of the major contributions of the Wood & Andersson work. Fortunately, I had sent a copy of the catalog to Antonin Rukl many years ago and he included our depths and diameters for named craters in his excellent Atlas of the Moon. The catalog I now hope to publish online will include depths for lettered craters as well as named ones.

Related Links:
NASA Catalog of Lunar Nomenclature. Andersson, L.A, and Whitaker, E.A, 1982: NASA Reference Publication 1097. Online version by J. McDowell.

Yesterday's LPOD: A Basin Near Schiller

Tomorrow's LPOD: North Polar Rays

Author & Editor:
Charles A. Wood



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