2010 Annual Science Report
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Reporting | SEP 2009 – AUG 2010
Project 4: Impact History in the Earth-Moon System
The influx of interplanetary debris onto the early Earth represents a major hazard to the emergence of life. Large crater-forming bodies must have been common in the early solar system, as craters are seen on all ancient solid surfaces from Mercury to the moons of the outer planets. Impact craters are few in number on the Earth today only because geologic activity and erosion gradually erase them. The Earth’s nearest neighbor, the Moon, lacks an atmosphere and significant tectonic activity, and therefore retains a record of past impacts. The goal of our research is to reconstruct the bombardment history of the Moon, and by proxy the Earth, to establish when the flux of sterilizing impacts declined sufficiently for the Earth to became habitable.
Zellner, N. E. B., Delano, J. W., Swindle, T. D., Barra, F., Olsen, E., & Whittet, D. C. B. (2009). Evidence from 40Ar/39Ar ages of lunar impact glasses for an increase in the impact rate ∼800Ma ago. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 73(15), 4590–4597. doi:10.1016/j.gca.2009.04.027
- Zellner, N.E.B., Delano, J.W., Swindle, T.D. & Whittet, D.C.B. (2010). Lunar Impact Glasses: What are They Telling Us? AbSciCon 2010.
PROJECT INVESTIGATORS:John Delano
PROJECT MEMBERS:Suzanne Baldwin
RELATED OBJECTIVES:Objective 4.3
Effects of extraterrestrial events upon the biosphere