|Diameter||556 km (345 mi)|
Mare Crisium /ˈkrɪsiəm/ (Latin crisium, the "Sea of Crises") is a lunar mare located in the Moon's Crisium basin, just northeast of Mare Tranquillitatis. The basin is of the Pre-Imbrian period, 4.55 to 3.85 billion years ago.
Mare Crisium is 556 km (345 mi) in diameter, and 176,000 square kilometres (68,000 sq mi) in area. It has a very flat floor, with a ring of wrinkle ridges (dorsa) toward its outer boundaries. These are Dorsa Tetyaev, Dorsum Oppel, Dorsum Termier, and Dorsa Harker. The cape-like feature protruding into the southeast of the mare is Promontorium Agarum. On the western rim of the mare is the palimpsest Yerkes, and Lick to the southeast is similar. The crater Picard is located just to the east of Yerkes, and northwest of Picard are the craters Peirce and Swift. The ray system of the crater Proclus overlie the northwestern mare. Mare Anguis can be seen northeast of Mare Crisium.
A mass concentration (mascon), or gravitational high, was identified in the center of Mare Crisium from Doppler tracking of the five Lunar Orbiter spacecraft in 1968. The mascon was confirmed and mapped at higher resolution with later orbiters such as Lunar Prospector and GRAIL.
Gravity map based on GRAIL
By the 17th century, Mare Crisium had acquired the name 'Caspian Sea', being labelled as such by Thomas Harriot, Pierre Gassendi and Michael Van Langren. Ewen A. Whitaker speculates that it received this name because it occupies roughly the same position on the Moon's face as does the Caspian Sea on Earth, with respect to maps of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. The English astronomer William Gilbert's map of c.1600 calls it 'Brittania' after Britain.
Observation and exploration
Mare Crisium is just visible from Earth with the naked eye as a small dark spot on the edge of the Moon's face.
Lunar Orbiter 4 image
These are three views of northern Mare Crisium on the Moon, taken by the mapping camera of the Apollo 17 mission in 1972, facing north-northeast from an average altitude of 118 km on Revolution 27 of the mission. At the right is the east margin of Mare Crisium, with the north tip of Promontorium Agarum visible in the foreground, and Mare Anguis near the central horizon. The crater Eimmart is visible in both the right and central photos as a bright patch (near the top in each). The center photo shows an obvious lack of large craters in the mare indicating a relatively young age of the basalt, and the crater Eimmart C is visible as a ring at the edge of the mare near the top center. The left photo shows the western margin of the mare, with the crater Peirce (larger) and Swift (smaller) in the mare, and the large crater Cleomedes near the central horizon. The rays of the crater Proclus (further to the west, not shown) are prominent in the mare. These photos were taken within minutes of each other. The sun elevation drops from 60 degrees at right to 46 degrees at left as the Command Module America orbited the Moon.
- "Mare Crisium". Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature. USGS Astrogeology Research Program.
- "Mare Crisium". lunar.arc.nasa.gov. Retrieved October 18, 2007.
- P. M. Muller, W. L. Sjogren (1968). "Mascons: Lunar Mass Concentrations". Science. 161 (3842): 680–684. doi:10.1126/science.161.3842.680. PMID 17801458.
- Ewen A. Whitaker, Mapping and Naming the Moon (Cambridge University Press, 1999), p.61.
- Ewen A. Whitaker, Mapping and Naming the Moon (Cambridge University Press, 1999), p.7.
- High resolution lunar overflight video by Seán Doran, based on LRO data, that passes near Mare Crisium (see album for more); a longer version that starts over the western margin of Mare Fecunditatis is on YouTube