September 2019 Meeting

Monday, September 9, 2019
6:00 - 7:30 pm

Pellissippi State Technical Community College
10915 Hardin Valley Road, Knoxville
J.L Goins Administration Building
Faculty/Staff Dining Room


Long Term Erosion of Lunar Impact Craters as a New Method of Obtaining Ages of the Lunar Surface


Cole Nypaver
PhD Student
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
University of Tennessee Knoxville


Cole's MS research was focused on long term erosion of lunar impact craters, which is a new method of obtaining ages of the lunar surface. The surface of Earth's Moon is mottled with small impact craters which are formed via the collision of an asteroid of comet with the lunar surface. Over time, these impact craters and the rocks that are thrown out upon their formation are eroded by subsequent impact events and constantly fluctuating temperatures at the lunar surface. In this work, we assess the degree to which impact craters have been eroded by characterizing them in both radar and thermal data. These two datasets grant us the ability to determine exactly how rocky and rough the impact craters are at the lunar surface and near surface. We then compare the thermal and radar signatures of the craters to previously modeled ages in order to establish a rate at which rocks break down and impact craters on the Moon erode. These rates provide a new metric of age-dating the lunar surface in which the age of a given impact crater can be obtained directly from the radar of thermal signature of that crater.


Cole Nypaver is a PhD candidate at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences with research interests in long-term regolith evolution on the Moon and radar remote sensing techniques. Prior to his studies at the University of Tennessee, Cole received a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology from Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania. Cole's research at Mercyhurst University involved a global analysis of shield volcanoes and effusive volcanism on the surface of Venus. Concurrent with his master's research, Cole is an active science team affiliate of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Mini-RF instrument where his duties include data management and public data usability.



Page updated December 14, 2019