UT Research Gives Closer Look At Other Planets’ Soils (130)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Scientists can more accurately determine soil and rock composition of other planets because of new research technology developed at the University of Tennessee.

 Using an electron microprobe to study finely crushed lunar soil, UT-Knoxville geologist Larry Taylor said he can compensate for the way cosmic rays, meteorites and other factors drastically change the surface of planets.

 “Space weathering” alters how light reflects off a planet’s surface and reduces the accuracy of scientific methods, such as remote sensing, in estimating a planet’s geological composition, Taylor said.

For example, the electron microprobe showed lunar soils from the Apollo 11 mission contain twice as much glass as estimated by remote sensing, Taylor said.

 Taylor presented his findings this week in Denver at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America.

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 Contact: Dr. Larry Taylor (423-974-6013)