- © The Mineralogical Society Of America
The current state of understanding of the lunar interior is the sum of nearly four decades of work and a range of exploration programs spanning that same time period. Missions of the 1960s including the Rangers, Surveyors, and Lunar Orbiters, as well as Earth-based telescopic studies, laid the groundwork for the Apollo program and provided a basic understanding of the surface, its stratigraphy, and chronology. Through a combination of remote sensing, surface exploration, and sample return, the Apollo missions provided a general picture of the lunar interior and spawned the concept of the lunar magma ocean. In particular, the discovery of anorthite clasts in the returned samples led to the view that a large portion of the Moon was initially molten, and that crystallization of this magma ocean gave rise to mafic cumulates that make up the mantle, and plagioclase flotation cumulates that make up the crust (Smith et al. 1970; Wood et al. 1970). This model is now generally accepted and is the framework that unifies our knowledge of the structure and composition of the Moon. The intention of this chapter is to review the major advances that have been made over the past decade regarding the constitution of the Moon’s interior. Much of this new knowledge is a direct result of data acquired from the successful Clementine and Lunar Prospector missions, as well as the analysis of new lunar meteorites. As will be seen, results from these studies have led to many fundamental amendments to the magma ocean model.
Much of what we know from sample analyses has been previously summarized elsewhere, and only their most important aspects will be discussed in this chapter. The reader is referred to the relevant chapters in the books Basaltic Volcanism on the Terrestrial Planets (Basaltic Volcanism Study Project 1981), The …