Talk: Meteorites (Tom Barratt)
Abstract: Volatile Elements in the Inner Solar System
Volatile elements play a fundamental role in planetary formation and evolution through their influence on a number of processes. Recent in situ measurements of volatiles (H2O, Cl and F), particularly in lunar and Martian samples, have changed our understanding of the volatile inventory of the inner Solar System. Whilst this has provided a wealth of data for these planetary bodies, currently little is known about the history of volatiles in other bodies in the inner Solar System.
Meteorites provide a window into the history of the Solar System and are key to understanding its formation and evolution. The majority of these samples come from a variety of small parent bodies (asteroids) whilst a small fraction originate from larger bodies such as the Moon or Mars. The variety of meteorites, both in terms of composition and age, enables us to study different parts of the Solar System as well as different points in its evolution.
The Howardite-Eucrite-Diogenite (HED) suite of meteorites represents the largest suite of crustal rocks available from a differentiated basaltic asteroid and account for between 2-3% of all meteorites collected globally. This group of meteorites are also some of the oldest igneous rocks in the solar system, remaining relatively unaltered since their formation ~8 to 20 Ma after the formation of the solar system, and offer insight into the planetary accretion process(es).
By investigating the abundance and source(s) of volatiles in the HEDS we can begin to constrain the timing of when water (H2O) existed in the inner Solar System. Knowing precisely when water accreted in the inner solar system also has implications for how and when life emerged on Earth and possibly beyond.
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