Dating planetary surfaces

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“Knowing what it is makes me excited to see it every time,” Anderson says.

What Anderson wants from these far-flung fragments of the Solar System is elementary: their ages.

Martian mysteries Robbins and co-author Brian Hynek, also of CU Boulder, sifted through huge piles of data from a number of Mars orbiters and landers to compile the new database.

"I basically analyzed maps and drew crater rim circles for four years," Robbins said.

The method has been calibrated using the ages of samples returned from the Moon.

The accuracy of age estimates of geologically young surfaces based on crater counting on Mars has been questioned due to formation of large amounts of secondary craters.John Grotzinger is the project scientists of MSL and leader in the interpretation of sedimentological processes and history on Mars, John Eiler is interested in isotopic geochemistry, especially as applied to understanding origin and evolution of planets (including earth) and Mike Lamb studies surface processes, including Mars sedimentology.Ken Farley is working on in situ dating of planetary surfaces.The bits of rock on Scott Anderson's shelf are not much to look at, but they have stories to tell.In a plastic case is a greenish-grey rock, a 4.5-billion-year-old piece of the asteroid Vesta.It highlights the violent history of Mars and could also help scientists address a number of questions about the Red Planet.

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