Impact Cratering and the Solar System Cataclysm

April 29, 2010 | 8:00pm
Presented Online | Museum in Washington, DC
Free, Tickets Required

6:45p.m. Pre-Show (Free)
Cosmic Voyage mixes ground-breaking computer animation with cutting edge science to give us a sweeping view of the universe. A "cosmic zoom" extends from the surface of the Earth to the largest observable structures of the universe, and then back down to the sub-nuclear realm - a guided tour across some 42 orders of magnitude. Cosmic Voyage explores some of the greatest scientific theories, many of which have never before been visualized on film. 

7:30 p.m. Meet the Lecturer Question and Answer 

8:00 p.m. Lecture  

The planets and moons of the Solar System are incredibly diverse worlds with histories both ancient and dramatic.  Etched into their surfaces is a fascinating story – of fire and ice, of order and upheaval, of great cataclysms and slow change.   Volcanism, impact, wind, and water are all common forces that shape these worlds, sometimes in ways familiar to us on Earth, sometimes in ways that amaze us.

Impact cratering is a process with devastating effects on a planet and its environment.  Very large impacts have the power to destroy whole oceans and life.  Impacts by asteroids, comets, and Kuiper Belt objects have been a major surface-altering process on all the solid planets and their satellites.  The inner planets, including Earth, experienced a catastrophic period of heavy bombardment about 3.9 billion years ago.  Discover how impacts shaped the Solar System we see today as Robert Strom guides us through the history of these dramatic events.

Robert G. Strom is Professor Emeritus of Planetary Sciences in the Department of Planetary Sciences and the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona.   A veteran of missions to the Moon, Venus, Mercury, and the outer planets, he is currently a science team member for the MESSENGER mission to Mercury.

The Exploring Space Lectures are made possible by the generous support of NASA and Aerojet.