Science Seminars

4/16/2015 – Impact craters as a tool for planetary exploration

Speaker: Brian Hynek (LASP)
Date: Thursday, Apr 16, 2020
Time: 3:30 PM
Location: SPSC W120

Seminar Abstract:

Impact craters are the most ubiquitous geological process in the solar system. Their uses as tools for understanding solid bodies in our solar system include: (1) age dating of planetary surfaces and geological processes, (2) informants of subsurface stratigraphy and geophysical properties of the crust, and (3) the physics of the impact process. In this talk, our recent research into each of these topics will be highlighted. New insights into the impact history of Mars include an improved understanding of the size-frequency distribution of impactors through time and insights into the Late Heavy Bombardment. I will also discuss the utility of impact craters as recorders of the volcanic and tectonic histories of Mars and Mercury. In the latter case, key measurements allow reconstruction of fault geometries at depth, compositional information of the subsurface, and inferences into geophysical properties such as the brittle-ductile transition. Finally, the use of impact craters for understanding the target and impactor properties will be addressed. Our results at Mars demonstrate that the crustal target properties (strength, rheology, layering, etc) have far greater influence on the final crater form than those of the impactor.