New hypothesis on crater debris

Sep 27, 2011

A team of researchers partnered with the NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI) has developed a new hypothesis for the origin of crater ejecta—debris that is launched out of a crater during meteorite impacts.

These findings may help scientists target samples for extraction during future missions to asteroids and terrestrial bodies such as Mercury, Venus, the moon and Mars. The results are published in the Sept. 21, 2011, issue of the Elsevier journal, Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

The science team, led by professor Gordon Osinski at The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, compared observations of ejecta from all terrestrial planets. The observations showed that ejecta deposits all contained more than one layer.

"Understanding ejecta is critical for understanding the context of samples collected by humans and robots during previous missions and may aid in targeting future sample return missions to the moon, Mars and beyond," said Osinski.

Craters formed on the surfaces of planetary bodies, including the Earth, by high-speed impacts, are a basic landform on all the solid planets in the solar system. In prevailing models, a continuous sheet of ejected material forms during the excavation stage of cratering. Osinski and his team suggest that this stage is followed by a second major episode of ejecta emplacement during the final moments of crater formation – something that has not been taken into account in any previous models of formation. This second episode takes the form of flows of material molten by the impact event, which originates from deeper below the surface, potentially offering a unique window into planetary interiors. A more thorough understanding of the composition of planetary interiors reveals important insights into the history of how our solar system formed.

“It is rewarding to see that our international collaborations within the NASA Lunar Science Institute continue to make an impact on current theories and challenge fundamental principles in the field of lunar science,” said NLSI Director Yvonne Pendleton.

Explore further: NASA issues 'remastered' view of Jupiter's moon Europa

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Distal Rampart of Crater in Chryse Planitia

Nov 13, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Impact craters on Mars are kind of neat. Many of them look very different than impact craters seen on Earth's moon or Mercury. Fresh lunar and Mercurian craters have ejecta blankets that look ...

SMART-1: Europe on the Moon, 1 year on

Aug 31, 2007

A year ago, as Europe reached the Moon for the first time, scientists on Earth eagerly watched SMART-1’s spectacular impact. New results from the impact analysis and from the instruments still keep coming.

NASA's LCROSS Mission Changes Impact Crater

Sep 29, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite mission (LCROSS) based on new analysis of available lunar data, has shifted the target crater from Cabeus A to Cabeus (proper).

Engineered collision spills new Moon secrets (w/ Video)

Oct 21, 2010

Scientists led by Brown University are offering the first detailed explanation of the crater formed when a NASA rocket slammed into the Moon last fall and information about the composition of the lunar soil ...

A New Twist to Dating an Asteroid

Aug 02, 2005

It turns out you can’t judge an asteroid by its cover, according to a recent study in the journal Nature. Or at least you can’t accurately date a certain asteroid called 433 Eros by counting the impact craters on its ...

Recommended for you

NASA issues 'remastered' view of Jupiter's moon Europa

Nov 21, 2014

(Phys.org) —Scientists have produced a new version of what is perhaps NASA's best view of Jupiter's ice-covered moon, Europa. The mosaic of color images was obtained in the late 1990s by NASA's Galileo ...

European space plane set for February launch

Nov 21, 2014

Europe's first-ever "space plane" will be launched on February 11 next year, rocket firm Arianespace said Friday after a three-month delay to fine-tune the mission flight plan.

Space station rarity: Two women on long-term crew

Nov 21, 2014

For the 21st-century spacewoman, gender is a subject often best ignored. After years of training for their first space mission, the last thing Samantha Cristoforetti and Elana Serova want to dwell on is the ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.