These students rock! Part 2 - MyMoon

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THESE STUDENTS ROCK! PART 2

Last week I started to tell a story about a team of high school students from Springfield, MO who recently conducted some lunar research. Their topic: impact cratering. Their purpose: distinguish between primary and secondary craters on the lunar surface. Why? Sorting out secondary craters from primary craters aids in estimating the age of a planetary surface. In their own words:

High resolution images of sixteen craters located in the southeastern Mare Imbrium region were analyzed in an attempt to distinguish primary from secondary craters. Comparisons of impact-ejected boulder diameter to crater diameter ratios indicate that primary craters exhibit a ratio <0.02, and secondary craters exhibit a ratio >0.02. This is consistent with the impact fracture theory which states that secondary craters will eject proportionally larger boulders than primary craters due to variations in impact velocities. We also found that morphologically, secondary craters appear more eccentric compared with primary craters, and more often have asymmetric (down-range pointed) and chaotically distributed ejecta. In conclusion, we found that a boulder diameter/crater diameter ratio of 0.02 provides a boundary that can be used to differentiate between primary and secondary craters on the lunar surface. This point of distinction is consistent with our additional methods of distinction between primary and secondary craters. Furthermore, crater eccentricity and the distribution of ejecta materials can be used to distinguish primary from secondary craters. Using these methods, a more accurate means of dating the lunar surface can be obtained through crater counting.

The above text is the abstract the students wrote when submitting their research to the 2011 NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI) Forum. Why were these students submitting their research to a professional conference? Because they won.

This team of students competed with six other high school teams from across the country for a chance to present their research at the NLSI forum. These high school teams spent the 2010-2011 school year conducting their research. Each team presented their findings to a panel of lunar scientists in April 2011. The posters from the top four scoring teams were put on display at the forum while the top scoring team was invited to present their research in person. The students from Kickapoo won the competition. You can view a recording of Kickapoo's presentation to the panel here. Their poster can be viewed here: here.

What happened when the students got to the forum? Stay tuned!

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