From Atomic Scales to Asteroidal Surfaces: Using Microanalytical Techniques to Understanding Surfaces across the Solar System”
Michelle Thompson, Purdue University
Michelle Thompson got her bachelors’ degrees in Geological Engineering and Biology at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. She received her MSc and PhD in Planetary Science from the University of Arizona. She completed a NASA Postdoctoral Fellowship at Johnson Space Center before moving to Purdue in 2018. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences. She is a member of the science team for the OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa2 sample return missions.
Presentation Title: “From Atomic Scales to Asteroidal Surfaces: Using Microanalytical Techniques to Understanding Surfaces across the Solar System”
Abstract: Soils on the surfaces of airless planetary bodies such as the Moon and asteroids are continuously being modified by their exposure to interplanetary space. These surface materials experience micrometeorite bombardment and irradiation by energetic particles from the solar wind, a phenomenon collectively known as space weathering. Such interactions change the chemical and microstructural characteristics of soil grains and, as a result, their optical properties which we can measure with remote sensing spacecraft. In order to understand the nature of space weathering processes on airless planetary surfaces, my group combines nanoscale analyses of returned samples with experimental simulations of space weathering in the laboratory. I will present my work using various microanalytical techniques to simulate micrometeorite impacts and solar wind irradiation of both returned samples and analog materials. I will discuss the analysis of these samples using various electron microscopy techniques. I will put these results into context for what we know about the Moon from the Apollo samples, and the ongoing NASA OSIRIS-REx and JAXA Hayabusa2 missions to near-Earth asteroids.