The huge bowl-shaped meteorite crater in Arizona that formed about 50,000 years ago is still providing new information, surprisingly.
The rewards for research from the out-of-this-world crater of the meteorite continue, said David Kring, principal scientist at the Consortium of Universities’ Space Research Consortium’s Moon and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas. He conducted training and field research at the Winslow, Arizona site for a decade.
Fill in the details
“We typically have two to three projects going on in the crater each year,” Kring told Space.com, whether it’s studies focused on crater wall deformation or assessment of the yard of falling debris surrounding the impact crater. “Every year we go back, we map some of the new features in the crater and fill in some details that aren’t found anywhere else. a land,” He said.
“The ballistics cap is 10 times larger than the crater area,” Kring said. The asteroid that formed the feature was iron meteorof type IAB, he added, is believed to be part of an impact crater on A asteroid which then came to Earth and formed another impact crater.
What is the true age of the hole itself? “In fact, the uncertainty is growing,” Kring said. Earlier, three independent methods produced the same number, and tied it to an age of 50,000 years.
“But in recent years, we’ve come to realize that calibration on two of these methods has more uncertainty associated with them than expected,” Kring said. “There is a possibility that the crater was a few thousand years older than what we have often stated. It is still during the last glacial epic. When mammoths and industrialists were grazing in that area.”
Kring and colleagues recovered pollen from lake sediments that filled the meteorite crater and were able to reconstruct what the vegetation looked like at the time of the impact.
Likewise, the impact of the collider is still unclear. “I can prove the case for just about any direction, although I think most evidence points north to south. The angle will probably be on the order of 45 degrees, plus or minus a little, to produce roughly circular or symmetrical crater-shaped,” said Kring. .that’s what we have.”
Over the years, Kring has trained active and candidate astronauts at the Meteor Crater. Doing so continues the legacy of teaching and learning that had the late astronomer Eugene “Jane” Shoemaker of the USGS and other geologists educating Apollo-era astronauts how to “read” moon view. “We do their basic training in the crater,” he said. “I have suggested that we need more advanced training at Meteor Crater and other impact sites if we are to successfully conduct the Artemis missions.”
Kring said the number one reason to train at impact sites like the Meteor Crater is to expose astronauts to the type of terrain they will operate in and work there safely.
“I stipulate that the best instrument we can deploy on the Moon is a well-trained astronaut,” Kring advised. “We would like them to be as productive as possible in addressing the goals of science and exploration. Understanding the impact of craters, the processes that go into producing them, and the way they redistribute materials across the lunar surface… Training is essential. He also noted that the best spectrometers in the world are the eyes of Well-trained astronauts.
Kring said that although the meteor crater is amazing in the first place, he advises future lunar walkers to stand on its edge and yawn, but then tell everyone to turn around and imagine another crater on the left, and a third crater on the right.
“This is the kind of terrain we’re asking them to explore and understand how it’s produced on the Moon,” Kring concluded.
“There is still a lot of research to be done out there,” says Meteor Crater investigator Dan Dorda, senior researcher at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.
“Meteor Crater is an excellent counterpart to our lunar exploration,” Dorda said. “It’s still the youngest and most stable crater on the planet.” It goes back to Gene Shoemaker’s work at Meteor Crater to estimate the impact process of impacts, pits, and ejection sediments.
“These signs are clearly available and easily visible,” Dorda said. “It’s an ideal training ground to show those operations to field astronauts, so that they understand what they’re doing on the moon.”
But there is another key message emanating from the crater of the meteor. “It exposes the risk of a near-earth collision to the interface,” Dorda said. “We had to get past the laugh factor years ago. The crater of the meteorite helped explain the kind of damage that can occur from even a very medium-sized impact.”
Dorda has been to the Meteor Crater too many times to count. But his first trip to the site was in 1991, then a graduate student in Florida and on his first trip west.
Dorda said, “My first experience of the crater was first looking at it on TV when I was a young man. Watching programs like the one presented by National Geographic, I was intrigued by this ‘geologist’ who kept talking about this crater. He had a gun and he shows how you shoot a bullet in the sand. And that’s how the hole formed. That person was Jane Shoemaker. Jane was the guy… and it was my first experience in the hole with Jane!”
With Shoemaker by his side, Durda said you couldn’t be around him and not come excited about geology. “He had a very contagious enthusiasm for what he was doing.”
Dorda cursed and mind on that first visit: “Holy cow. This is a huge deep hole in the ground. It’s amazing.” Shoemaker and Dorda together walked the “astronaut track,” stopping in the field along the way to chat about aspects of stratigraphic influence and then down to the bottom of the crater.
“The real view, the real impression, the real awe and majesty are on the edge, looking out and across and down,” Dorda added.
Once again, Meteor Crater offers another bonus from outer space. Dorda is an active member of the International Association of Astronomical Artists (IAAA). “Meteor Crater is not just a science analog. It’s not just an exploration analog. It’s a visual analog for telling the story of other places in the solar system used by artists,” he said.
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