LPL Colloquium: Dr. Kun Wang

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New Perspective on the Origin of the Moon

Tuesday, February 27, 2018 3:45pm to 4:45pm
Kuiper Space Sciences: Room 308

Dr. Kun Wang
Assistant Professor
Washington University, St. Louis

The Moon has always intrigued humankind. Many myths, theories, and hypotheses have emerged throughout history to explain its origin; however, until 1970s there were neither adequate tools nor direct samples to test these hypotheses. Thanks to the return of lunar samples via NASA’s Apollo missions, the revolutionary “Giant Impact” theory was proposed and gradually received full acceptance. It was believed that the question of lunar formation had finally been answered. In the past decade, ultra-high precision isotopic analyses of lunar samples have begun contradicting some predictions of the “Giant Impact” theory, challenging the canonical view of the formation of the Moon. We are in the midst of a crisis, an “isotopic crisis" regarding the origin of the Moon.

To solve this, we must re-evaluate our measured evidence and test new perspectives on the origin of the Moon. I will tackle this problem and address this crisis using innovative tracers of moderately volatile elements (such as K, Zn, and Cu). These elements are susceptible to evaporation and condensation during impact events of different scales. In this talk, I will use these moderately volatile tracers to test the various scenarios of the Moon-forming Giant Impact theories.

Host: Associate Professor Tom Zega