Investigating the Early Solar System with Isotope Cosmochemistry - Manchester Cosmochemistry Rolling Grant

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Earth Atmospheric and Env Sciences

Abstract

We're all familiar with the solar system, but how did it come to be the way it is today? We believe the story started with a cloud of dust and gas, much like those we can observe elsewhere in the galaxy today. We plan to examine some samples of this dust that were preserved in meteorites and try to learn about the stars they came from and what happened to them in the cloud from which the solar sytem formed. We also plan to study dust entering the solar system today so we can compare it with dust from 4.5 billion years ago. This will tell us how the galaxy has changed over time. The first stage in the formation of the solar system was the collapse of the cloud into a disk that fed material into a central star. There is speculation that a supernova either caused the collapse or happened at around this time. To help find out if this is true, we will try to find how much radioactive iron was present (atoms of radioactive iron are made in supernovae along with a lot of other stable and unstable atoms). Other radioactive elements were present in the early solar system. Some decayed so rapidly that none of them were left after 100Ma, but we want to use the traces they left behind to figure out the sequence of events that led to the planets and asteroids of today's solar system Eventually sizable bodies formed that, like the Earth, were big enough to separate into iron cores and stony mantles. We want to use martian meteorites to see how this happened on the planet Mars. We can compare this with the similar processes on the Earth that allowed life to form and evolve. We're especially interested how volatile elements that tend to end up in a planet's atmosphere or oceans behaved early in the history of Mars. We're also planning to study meteorites from the Moon so that we can see how long volcanoes continued to pore lava onto its surface and how its surface was broken up by meteorite impacts. All of these projects rely on special scientific instruments and techniques that we have developed. As part of this project we plan to develop a new generation of instruments that will allow us to get information from a few hundred atoms of the rare gas krypton.

Publications

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Benedix G. K. (2010) TRACE ELEMENT COMPOSITION OF A SULFIDE NODULE IN TOLUCA IAB IRON in METEORITICS & PLANETARY SCIENCE

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Cartwright J. A. (2009) HALOGENS IN NAKHLA AND NWA 998: EVIDENCE OF MARTIAN WEATHERING? in METEORITICS & PLANETARY SCIENCE

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Crowther S. A. (2010) MEASUREMENTS OF XENON FROM THE SOLAR WIND IN GENESIS SILICON COLLECTOR TARGETS in METEORITICS & PLANETARY SCIENCE

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Crowther S. A. (2008) Solar xenon in genesis silicon samples in METEORITICS & PLANETARY SCIENCE

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Fernandes Vera A. (2008) Preliminary Ar-Ar studies of lunar basaltic meteorite Dhofar 287-A in GEOCHIMICA ET COSMOCHIMICA ACTA

 
Description Presentations to Interest Groups in the North West (Astronomy Societies, Geology Societies, Science Bars etc) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Audiences ranged from 20-100. Specific details relevant to this funding period of our rolling/consolidated grant are...

25th April 2007 Lovell Lecture, Jodrell Bank Meteorites and the Early Solar System.
11th June 2007 West Didsbury Astronomy Society Meteorites and the Early Solar System.
15th April 2008 Macclesfield Astronomy Society Meteorites and the Early Solar System.
10th November 2008 Wolverhampton Astronomy Society Meteorites and the Early Solar System.
16th October 2008 Kopal Lecture, Manchester Astronomical Society Stardust and the Early Solar System.
4th April 2009 Moonwatch, Jodrell Bank. Presentation (delivered twice) - Introduction to The Moon - introducing "hands on" event demonstrating use of petrological microscopes to study moon rocks.
7th April 2009 Bolton Astronomical Society Public Lecture Meteorites and the Early Solar System.
17th May 2009 Bollington Festival Meteorites, Stardust and the Early Solar System. Sold out 126 tickets.
27th May 2009 Mission Possible, One day continuing education summer school, University of Manchester.


The level of group engagement in this activity has increased, and we now participate regularly in larger scale events (see return for further funding tranches for details)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity Pre-2006,2006,2007,2008,2009,2010,2011,2012,2013,2014