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Early Solar System History


UCLA scientists study how planetary systems form and evolve through numerical simulations and laboratory studies of billion-year-old specimens.  Prof. William Newman uses computer models to answer questions about how stars and planets first coalesced from clouds of dust and gas and how the planetary dynamics in the early solar system influenced the formation of the inner and outer planets.  Other researchers undertake laboratory experiments to examine the isotopic composition of parts of meteorites, bits of rock from other planets, and the oldest minerals on Earth that have remained practically untouched since its formation.

Prof. T. Mark Harrison and Prof. Axel Schmitt study grains of the mineral zircon that are over 3 billion years old in an attempt to determine the timing and extent of the Late Heavy Bombardment, an event thought to have happened in the early solar system between 3.8 and 4.1 billion years ago and caused significant cratering on the Earth and Moon.  Prof. Kevin McKeegan constructed the MegaSIMS laboratory to analyze samples of the solar wind collected and brought back to Earth by the GENESIS spacecraft in order to better understand the ratios of certain isotopes in the Sun and how it compares to the ratio found in asteroids and planets.  Prof. John Wasson and Prof. Edward Young study the composition of meteorites to better understand the conditions in the early solar system when they first formed.


harrison Kevin McKeegan - UCLA Earth & Space Sciences - 110620 newman schmitt
T. Mark Harrison Kevin McKeegan William Newman Axel Schmitt
Prof. John Wasson for the UCLA College Report-Spring 2009 - 090410 young
John Wasson Edward Young

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