These past two weeks I have been busy with the peripheries of scientist work. including putting together a proposal, a poster and doing some public outreach
Last week, I found out about the Barringer Family Fund, where they give out grants to students working on meteorite impact research. I found out about the proposal on Monday and applications were due that Friday. This is not an ideal amount of time to put together a fresh proposal and have two letters of recommendations sent in, but nonetheless, she persisted. Luckily, my support system went into full gear to help me out: reviewing the proposal, writing letters, and generally being encouraging. I certainly couldn’t done all of this without them! So a major thank you to Shannon Hibbard, Anna Urso, Eric Pilles and Livio Tornabene. My idea for this proposal was to use the money to buy a new processing computer in order to make DTMs more efficiently. And for this to happen, I would need a multi-core processor with lots of RAM. You can read the whole proposal here.
Also last week I contacted Karla Moeller at ASU, at the suggestion of Catherine, to participate in a public outreach event called “Ask an Earth Scientist“. This opportunity is trying the answer basic questions about what an earth scientist does and what they study. After talking with Karla in a couple email correspondences she assigned me the question “How are craters formed?“ and asked that I keep my answer to under 400 words and here is what I came up with (after reviewing J. Melosh’s Planetary Surface Processes text book):
Impact craters are generally “circular rimmed depressions”. They can range in size from needing a microscope to covering a large portion of a celestial body. For example, Mars’ Hellas Basin is 2000 km across, roughly the size of Alaska!
Impact craters are formed rapidly. A meteor enters a celestial body’s atmosphere and then impacts the surface. There are generally three stages to creating an impact crater: contact, excavation, and modification.
Contact is a fairly short stage where the projectile (aka meteor, now meteorite because it has touched the surface) hits the surface and begins transferring energy to the surrounding rock. This energy transfer is really quite large and can be the equivalent of TNT! A shock wave is generated at this stage as well.
During the excavation stage, the shock wave that was created during the contact stage now propagates outward. It casts material away from the crater while also heating it up. Some of the surrounding rock can even be melted or vaporized because the energy transfer is so intense! In addition to this, a lot of the surrounding rock is fractured and cracked. The shock wave can form can form cone-like fractures in the rock, called shatter-cones and is one of the ways scientists can verify an impact crater here on Earth. The material that is cast off outside the crater is called the “ejecta blanket”.
The modification stage is the last stage during this chaotic process. The shockwave has mostly dissipated and material begins to fall back down to the surface. Some of the debris still within the crater will slump downward towards the center. Most of the effects at this stage are due to gravity.
This, in short, is how the cratering process works. Maybe soon you can be an earth scientist and study craters, too!
And finally, I created a poster for CPSX’s 2019 Space Day! This is my first poster as a graduate student and I am really pleased with it. After discussing with Catherine about what makes a good poster, she recommended following this blog post as a guideline. I took this to heart and tried to create a poster in a similar fashion. I kept words to a minimum, tried explaining my research through pictures and figures much like an infographic, used large legible text, used only a few colors, and tried to make it inviting so people may ask questions about it after looking at it for only a few seconds. Check it out!