12th Early Career Scientists' meeting

The program has been finalised. Please check for oral and poster presentations. The meeting will include:
  • 3 keynote talks

  • Oral presentations from the participants

  • poster session

  • Guided tour at the Impact Lab of the University of Kent

Keynote talks

Prof. M.Burchell (University of Kent)
Title: Astrobiology and the Moon

Abstract: The Moon is usually considered a dry, sterile environment, so what has it to do with astrobiology? It does however preserve (to a degree) what impacts it. We can thus ask what we are likely to find if we look, along with where to look. There can be inputs from terestrial meteorites carrying a record from the Earth, as well asmeterial from deep space. In the former case we may well be looking for evidence of past life on Earth, in the latter case evidence for pre-biotic complex organic materials. Both are important in terms of advancing our understanding of life on the Solar System.

Dr. P.Grindrod (Birkbeck/UCL)
Title: Selecting the landing site for the ESA 2018 ExoMars rover

Abstract: The search for life on Mars is a cornerstone of international solar system exploration. In 2018, the European Space agency will launch the ExoMars Rover to further this exploration. The key science objectives of the ExoMars Rover are to: (1) search for signs of past and present life on Mars, (2) investigate the water/geochemical environment as a function of depth in the shallow subsurface, and (3) to characterise the surface environment. ExoMars will drill into the sub-surface to look for indicators of past life using a variety of complementary techniques, including assessment of morphology (potential fossil organisms), mineralogy (past environments) and a search for organic molecules and their chirality (biomarkers).
The choice of landing site is vital if the objectives are to be met. The landing site must: (i) be ancient (≥3.6 Ga), (ii) show abundant morphological and mineral evidence for long-term, or frequently reoccurring, aqueous activity, (iii) include numerous sedimentary outcrops that (iv) are distributed over the landing region (the typical Rover traverse range is a few km, but ellipse size is ~100 by 15 km). Various 'engineering constraints' also apply, including: (i) latitude limited to 5º S to 25º N, (ii) maximum altitude of the landing site 2 km below Mars's datum, (iii) few steep slopes within the uncertainty ellipse.
In March 2014, the first ExoMars Landing Site Selection Workshop was held, during which eight different landing sites were presented and discussed. In October 2014, ESA downselected to four final sites: Mawrth Vallis, Oxia Planum, Aram Dorsum and Hypanis Vallis. Of these, our team led proposals for the Aram Dorsum and Hypanis Vallis sites. Aram Dorsum is inferred to be the remnants of a long-lived, widespread alluvial system that was buried and then recently exhumed. The Hypanis site contains layered terminal deposits from the Hypanis and Sabrina Valles and is inferred to be an ancient environment.
Since the workshop, further mapping and geological studies of these sites have been performed. Here we describe the latest results for these two sites, and why they are appropriate for meeting ExoMars' goals.

Dr. K.Joy (University of Manchester)
Title: Big bangs in the solar system: the Moon as an archive of impact bombardment in the Solar System

Abstract: The Moon is an archive of impact cratering in the Solar System throughout the past 4.5 billion years. The lunar impact record itself is controversial with several different models proposed to explain past impact flux. All of the Moon's large impact basins were formed between 4.5 Ga and ~3.8 Ga. However, the duration and magnitude of basin-formation is not well known. It may be that there was a sudden spike in bombardment between ~3.9 to 3.8 Ga when many basins formed (this is known as the lunar cataclysm hypothesis), or it could be that there was a period of late heavy bombardment lasting from ~4.2 to 3.8 Ga. Controversies, intrigue and new views will be discussed.