Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences News

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.”

What’s Your Big Idea?—Hap McSween

Big Orange Big Ideas

Faculty, staff, students, and alumni are sharing the big ideas that make a difference in their world. Harry “Hap” McSween, Chancellor’s Professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, has the big idea of engaging kids in science and engineering by letting them see first-hand that science is fun. McSween will speak at the College of Arts and Sciences Pregame Showcase at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 15, in the University Center Ballroom.

Student Commands Mars Rover

UT physics doctoral student Chris Tate is working with Jeffrey Moersch, associate professor in UT's Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, on the Curiosity mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Children are often mystified by remote control cars and how they can control them with a device while standing several feet away from them. This past week, Chris Tate was mystified by the same power—only he was controlling something 150 million miles away, on another planet. The UT physics doctoral student had the rare opportunity to control one of the science instruments on NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars.