Simulating Hypervelocity Planetary Impacts

UK Centre for Astrobiology seminar

Simulating Hypervelocity Planetary Impacts

  • Event time: All day
  • Event date: 15th January 2019
  • Speaker: Kathryn Harriss (University of Kent)
  • Location: Higgs Centre Seminar Room, Room 4305,

Event details

The icy moons of Saturn and Jupiter are large and many are theorised to have a subsurface ocean beneath the surface layer of ice such as Europa and Enceladus. This makes these bodies prime targets for possible habitability with the ocean providing the medium which support the organic molecules needed for life to form. However, icy bodies are just as likely as other bodies to suffer impacts and though this may bring in the energy required for life to form, impacts can also cause major disruption to body, but the results of impacts also provide information about the icy moon structure which can help understand where life could develop due to variation in the size, shape and depth of the crater. 

What about the composition of the underlying ocean? Currently, the best access to the subsurface ocean is to collect the material being ejected from the plumes that have been observed on the southern pole of Enceladus. However, a possible collection method will be similar to that used by the Stardust mission meaning that the organics, salts and other theorise material within the plume will be collected after an impact not only due to the velocity of the plume ejection but also the speed of the spacecraft. To investigate if organic and saline material can be collected in a state fit for analysis by a spacecraft we have been investigating the residues of organic material and various salts resulting from high-velocity impacts between 1 and 7 kms-1. This talk will discuss the methods used to investigate the internal structures of the Icy Moons and understanding the formation of the large craters on the surface of the icy moons and the possibility of sampling the internal material using an impact capture system.   

About UK Centre for Astrobiology seminars

The astrobiology seminar series is run by the UK Centre for Astrobiology based in the School of Physics & Astronomy. Astrobiology is a multi-disciplinary subject and the seminar series actively encourages attendance by undergraduates, postgraduates and academic staff from other departments..

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