Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences News

Meteorites Revealing Secrets of Russian Fireball

Larry Taylor, distinguished professor of earth and planetary sciences, has samples of the meteor which exploded over Russia. He is studying them to see what insight they can provide into the rare impact by a space rock, and other stories they may have to tell.

NPR: NASA Says Ancient Mars Could Have Supported Life

Hap McSween, earth and planetary sciences professor, spoke to NPR about NASA’s Mars Curiosity mission’s latest discovery. An analysis of a rock sample collected by NASA’s Curiosity rover shows ancient Mars could have supported living microbes by revealing some key ingredients for life.

UT Expert Helps Find Evidence That Prehistoric Crocs Ate Small Dinosaurs

Drumheller-Horton feeding a partial cow hind limb to a group of American alligators at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm in Florida. She was collecting bite mark samples from different species of crocodylian on cow and pig limbs.

Prehistoric relatives to crocodiles and alligators fed on tiny dinosaurs, according to fossil evidence discovered by a team of researchers, including a UT lecturer. Stephanie Drumheller, a 2005 graduate and lecturer in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, analyzed bite marks on some seventy-five-million-year-old dinosaur bones that were collected in southern Utah in 2002.

News Sentinel: UT expert: Meteorites not uncommon

The Knoxville News Sentinel interviewed Joshua Emery, assistant professor of earth and planetary sciences, about the 10-ton meteor that broke into pieces over Russia. Emery said the astronomical event is not terribly uncommon.

Professor Shares Photos from Rover Mission

Linda Kah is an integral part of the NASA team working on the Curiosity rover on Mars. The associate professor of earth and planetary sciences works on camera team that is searching for features within rocks that might provide clues to the role of fluids in the planet’s past. This week, she shared a self-portrait of the rover.

UT Study Confirms Solar Wind as Source for Moon Water

Agglutinate sample. Image courtesy of David McKay.

Three years ago UT researchers helped to discover water on the surface of the moon. Now, they are piecing together the origin of that water: solar wind. A new study published in this month’s “Nature Geoscience” confirms solar wind as a source for water embedded in the lunar surface.

Asteroid-Naming Contest for Kids Involves UT Professor’s Work

OSIRIS-REx spacecraft at asteroid 1999 RQ36. Photo credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Arizona

Josh Emery, assistant professor in earth and planetary sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, works on the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission, which is now hosting a contest that will allow kids under the age of 18 to name an asteroid. The international contest will help scientists find a new name for asteroid 1996 RQ36. Emery said the contest is “a good way to get students to really think about exploration and the human spirit.”

Wall-E on Mars?

Linda Kah, associate professor of earth and planetary sciences, and her Mars Curiosity camera team call this picture “Wall-E.”