Tuesday, 28 March 2017  


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Solar System Formation
(Conel M. O'D. Alexander, Alan P. Boss, Richard W. Carlson, John A. Graham, Fouad Tera, George W. Wetherill)

[hbar7df01 (by Alan Boss)] Experimental and theoretical investigations relating to the earliest history of the Earth and solar system. These include the development of theories for the formation of the solar nebula, the condensation and accretion of primordial matter in the solar system, the growth of planets and minor bodies such as comets and asteroids, and their subsequent dynamical and chemical evolution. The theoretical approach is complemented by a program of the observation of star formation itself. By observing stars like our Sun in the process of formation today we can expect to understand what went on in the vicinity of our own Sun when it was a young star, newly condensed from a parent cloud of dust and gas. Further experimental and observational tests of these theories are made through isotopic studies on meteorites and ancient terrestrial rocks.

Planetary Evolution
(Sean C. Solomon)

Planetary Physics (graphics by Jan Dunlap) Geological, geophysical, and geochemical studies of magnetism, tectonics, and chemical evolution of the terrestrial planets. Tools include imaging and other experimental observations from recent spacecraft missions to the planets. Topics of current research include the history and resurfacing and outgassing on Venus, the nature and evolution of the lithosphere on Venus and Mars, the formation and structural and magmatic evolution of large volcanoes on the terrestrial planets, the nature of mantle-lithosphere interaction on Venus, and an exploration of the factors affecting differences in the tectonic evolution of Venus and Earth. This work is linked strongly to the research on solar system formation and to the broad efforts of the Department to understand the formation and evolution of the planet most acessible to detailed investigation--the Earth.