The formation of solar systems
Meteorites and cosmic dust, samples of asteroids and comets, date back to the earliest history of our Solar System. These are samples of a planetary system in the making and allow us to study the formation of solar systems directly in the laboratory by analysis of the minerals, compositions and textures of these extraordinary rocks.
Stars and the interstellar medium
Within meteorites and cosmic dust are materials that predate our Solar System. Some of these grains formed in supernovae, some in other stars, some in the depths of interstellar space. Presolar grains provide samples that allow processes occuring throughout our galaxy to be studied in the laboratory.
The evolution of planets and moons
After their accretion in the Solar Nebula, the planets and moons continued to evolve. Their interiors seperated into cores, mantles and crusts. Magmatism and volcanism occurred on their surfaces as did erosion and weathering. The evolution of these objects can be studied through the investigation of meteorites and rocks, and observations by spacecraft of their surface features.
block 2 - Research
Impact processes and craters
The collision of asteroids and comets with planets and moons has occurred throughout the 4.5 billion year history of our Solar System. These catastrophic events have shaped the surfaces, geology and histories of the planets since their formation. Impacts are studied through the direct investigation of terrestrial craters, the modelling of impact processes, experiments, and observations of planetary surfaces.
How did life evolve on Earth and does it occur elsewhere in our Solar System? These questions are fundamental in answering whether we are alone in the Universe. Astrobiology research in IARC addresses these questions through studies of the early Earth, studies of microbes and their adaptive strategies, as well as investigating the potential for life on other objects in our Solar System.
Collecting extraterrestrial materials
Samples of extraterrestrial materials from Solar System objects and beyond provide unique opportunities in studying the formation and evolution of planets and planetary system. Through collection of meteorites and cosmic dust on Earth, and in space, together with the curation of these materials, IARC is actively involved in the recovery of extraterrestrial materials for scientific study.