V3: In situ cosmogenic dating of extraterrestrial surfaces

Read the project’s news!

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  • Our project is the design of a prototype of “spatializable” mass spectrometer and its preparation line dedicated to the analysis of all noble gases, in order to estimate, by in situ measure-ments, exposure ages of extraterrestrial samples (Mars, The Moon and asteroids). It is clear that only a small number (and mass) of samples will be returned to Earth, and therefore the careful choice of these samples, and the in situ analyses of a large number of samples will stay the better technic to answer to some simple but important scientific questions such as age surfaces, ages and frequency of impacts, or exposure duration by the solar wind.

     

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    Design and tests

    POSITION NAME SURNAME LABORATORY NAME GRADE, EMPLOYER
    WP leader Moreira Manuel CAGE PR, Paris Diderot
    WP member Moureau Julien CAGE IE

     

    Collaborators for the stage 2 of the project t (>2020):

    • S.Charnoz
    • F. Moynier
    • J. Badro
    • M. Chaussidon

     

  • Our project is the design of a prototype of “spatializable” mass spectrometer and its preparation line dedicated to the analyses of all noble gases, in order to estimate, by in situ measurements, exposure ages of extraterrestrial samples (Mars, The Moon and asteroids). It is clear that only a small number (and mass) of samples will be returned to The Earth, and therefore the careful choice of these samples, and the in-situ analyses of a large number of samples will stay the better technic to answer to some simple but important scientific questions. In a second stage of the project (starting 2020), we plan also develop the K-Ar dating technic using the same instrument.

    We have identified the following scientific targets:

    • For The Moon, Mars and/or asteroids: In situ cosmogenic isotope measurements (e.g. 3He, 21Ne, 38Ar and iKr including 81Kr) will allow determining if the cosmogenic contribution is small and will help for the choice of sampling in the view of the sample-return with the minimum cosmogenic-derived signature (and/or implanted solar wind).
    • For The Moon: Our technic will allow estimating the age of lunar craters in a given area using the cosmogenic isotopes. The ages of the surfaces in planetary science are estimated knowing the number of craters, which requires the knowledge of the flux (see recent estimate and discussion in [Speyerer et al., 2016]). The direct measurement of the ages of the craters will help constraining these fluxes.
    • For The Moon: The cosmogenic isotopes of the noble gases allow determining if regoliths were paleoregoliths and therefore, with measurement using the same instrument, will give access to the noble gas compositions of past solar wind and its evolution with time (e.g. helium, neon).
    • Mars: Obviously, cosmogenic isotopes will be fundamental to study tectonics, geomorphology and volcanology on Mars. Particularly, the measurement of cosmogenic isotopes can be interesting to date relatively young surface and therefore to constrain the recent volcanic activity on Mars. Moreover, some specific questions can be addressed too, such as the age of formation of the Martian hematites (“blueberries”), and their relationship with liquid water.

     


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