Rays and secondary craters of Tycho

Colin M. Dundas, Alfred S. McEwen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


The large, fresh crater Tycho in the nearside lunar highlands has an extensive system of bright rays covering approximately 560,000 km2, containing dense clusters of secondary craters. Examination of crater densities in several clusters shows that Tycho produced almost 106 secondary craters larger than 63 m diameter. This is a lower limit, because small crater densities are reduced, most likely by mass wasting. We estimate a crater erasure rate of 2-6 cm/Myr, varying with crater size, and consistent with previous results. This process has removed many small craters, and it is probable that the original number of secondary craters formed by Tycho was higher. Also, we can only identify distant secondaries of Tycho where they occur in bright rays. Craters on Mars and Europa also formed large numbers of secondaries, but under possibly ideal conditions for spallation as a mechanism to produce high-velocity ejecta fragments. The results from Tycho show that large numbers of such fragments can be produced even from impact into a heavily fragmented target on which spallation is expected to be less important.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-40
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • Cratering
  • Impact processes
  • Moon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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