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In Situ Geochronology for the Next Decade: Mission Designs for the Moon, Mars, and Vesta

Cohen, Barbara A. and Young, Kelsey E. and Zellner, Nicolle E. B. and Zacny, Kris and Yingst, R. Aileen and Watkins, Ryan N. and Warwick, Richard and Valencia, Sarah N. and Swindle, Timothy D. and Robbins, Stuart J. and Petro, Noah E. and Nicoletti, Anthony and Moriarty, Dan P. and Lynch, Richard and Indyk, Stephen J. and Gross, Juliane and Grier, Jennifer A. and Grant, John A. and Ginyard, Amani and Fassett, Caleb I. and Farley, Kenneth A. and Farcy, Benjamin J. and Ehlmann, Bethany L. and Dyar, M. Darby and Daelemans, Gerard and Curran, Natalie M. and van der Bogert, Carolyn H. and Arevalo, Ricardo D. and Anderson, F. Scott (2021) In Situ Geochronology for the Next Decade: Mission Designs for the Moon, Mars, and Vesta. Planetary Science Journal, 2 (4). Art. No.145. ISSN 2632-3338. doi:10.3847/PSJ/abedbf.

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Geochronology is an indispensable tool for reconstructing the geologic history of planets, essential to understanding the formation and evolution of our solar system. Bombardment chronology bounds models of solar system dynamics, as well as the timing of volatile, organic, and siderophile element delivery. Absolute ages of magmatic products provide constraints on the dynamics of magma oceans and crustal formation, as well as the longevity and evolution of interior heat engines and distinct mantle/crustal source regions. Absolute dating also relates habitability markers to the timescale of evolution of life on Earth. However, the number of terrains important to date on worlds of the inner solar system far exceeds our ability to conduct sample return from all of them. In preparation for the upcoming Decadal Survey, our team formulated a set of medium-class (New Frontiers) mission concepts to three different locations (the Moon, Mars, and Vesta) where sites that record solar system bombardment, magmatism, and habitability are uniquely preserved and accessible. We developed a notional payload to directly date planetary surfaces, consisting of two instruments capable of measuring radiometric ages, an imaging spectrometer, optical cameras to provide site geologic context and sample characterization, a trace-element analyzer to augment sample contextualization, and a sample acquisition and handling system. Landers carrying this payload to the Moon, Mars, and Vesta would likely fit into the New Frontiers cost cap in our study (~$1B). A mission of this type would provide crucial constraints on planetary history while also enabling a broad suite of complementary investigations.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Cohen, Barbara A.0000-0001-5896-5903
Yingst, R. Aileen0000-0002-0628-4265
Robbins, Stuart J.0000-0002-8585-2549
Grant, John A.0000-0001-8276-1281
Fassett, Caleb I.0000-0001-9155-3804
Farley, Kenneth A.0000-0002-7846-7546
Farcy, Benjamin J.0000-0001-5159-6551
Ehlmann, Bethany L.0000-0002-2745-3240
Dyar, M. Darby0000-0003-4272-793X
van der Bogert, Carolyn H.0000-0003-2882-7037
Additional Information:© 2021. The Author(s). Published by the American Astronomical Society. Original content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI. Received 2020 October 14; revised 2021 January 26; accepted 2021 March 8; published 2021 August 3. Lunar Mission Concepts and High-priority Landing Sites. This work was supported by the Planetary Mission Concept Studies program. Additional analysis was supported by NASA's Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute Center for Lunar and Asteroid Surface Science (CLASS). This research has made use of NASA's Astrophysics Data System.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Subject Keywords:Earth-moon system; Selenology; Mars; Main belt asteroids; Lunar geochronology; Cosmochronology
Issue or Number:4
Classification Code:Unified Astronomy Thesaurus concepts: Earth-moon system (436); Selenology (1441); Mars (1007); Main belt asteroids (2036); Lunar geochronology (954); Cosmochronology (332)
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210813-181202655
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Official Citation:Barbara A. Cohen et al 2021 Planet. Sci. J. 2 145
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:110251
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:16 Aug 2021 14:19
Last Modified:16 Aug 2021 14:19

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