Focus on extraterrestrial materials through laboratory studies of meteorites and lunar samples, spectroscopic observations of asteroids and Mars, participation in spacecraft missions, and field studies of terrestrial analogs. Some examples of current research by our faculty in Planetary Geoscience are shown below. Visit the faculty members’ pages through the above links to get more information about research in Planetary Geoscience at UT.
MER Gusev Crater Landing Site Analysis:
Dr. McSween and graduate student Keith Milam used TES and THEMIS data to map the geology of Gusev Crater on Mars. Gusev Crater is a landing sites for one of the MER rover missions. The crater is thought to have been a depositional basin for outflow from Ma' adim Vallis, even holding a lake during part of Martian geologic history. This is a prime site in the search for evidence of past water (and potentially life) on Mars.
Diamonds: Dr. Taylor, in collaboration with Dr. Bill Carlson at the University of Texas, Austin, has been studying the origin of diamondiferous eclogite from Udachnaya, Siberia. They have been able to determine the positions of the minerals in eclogites with the use of high-resolution computerized tomography (CT scan). In the figure on the right, four successive slices show the presence of diamonds (black). Note their positions relative to the garnets (lt. gray), pyroxene (dk. gray), and sulfides (white). This is the most diamond-rich eclogite that they have ever examined and is the subject of a “pull-apart” study of this eclogite, its diamonds, and their mineral inclusions.