Contact Information

Prof. Peter Simpson
Physics & Astronomy 210
(519) 661-3390
psimpson [at] uwo [dot]ca
FAX: (519) 661-2033

Space Weathering

This is a new interdisciplinary investigation, in collaboration with planetary scientist Prof. Paul Wiegert.

Space weathering describes processes such as micrometeorite bombardment, cosmic ray exposure and solar wind implantation that occur on airless solar system bodies such as the Moon and asteroids. These processes modify the optical properties of the surfaces of such bodies and that can confound the interpretation of remotely obtained spectral data. In short, the colour of a body's surface is modified in such a way that it no longer is representative of the bulk. This problem has been particularly acute in the case of asteroids, where the colours of meteorites measured in the lab do not match those of asteroids despite the general agreement that asteroids are the source of meteorites. Despite being recognized in the 1960's, this problem remains unresolved. We use ion implantation to simulate the processes of space weathering in the laboratory, and to assess changes in composition and structure. By correlating laboratory irradiation with conditions in the solar system we expect to further our understanding of small solar system bodies and of space weathering.

Tandetron Ion Accelerator, used to simulate the radiation conditions of space in the laboratory.