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Part I – I analyze a database of Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH) simulations of collisions between planetary bodies and use the data to define semi-empirical models that reproduce remant masses.

Part I – I analyze a database of Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH) simulations of collisions between planetary bodies and use the data to define semi-empirical models that reproduce remant masses. These models may be leveraged when detailed, time-dependent aspects of the collision are not paramount, but analytical intuition or a rapid solution is required, e.g. in ‘N-body simulations’. I find that the stratification of the planet is a non-negligible control on accretion efficiency. I also show that the absolute scale (total mass) of the collision may affect the accretion efficiency, with larger bodies more efficiently disrupting, as a function of gravitational binding energy. This is potentially due to impact velocities above the sound speed. The interplay of these dependencies implies that planet formation, depending on the dynamical environment, may be separated into stages marked by differentiation and the growth of planets more massive than the Moon.

Part II – I examine time-resolved neutron data from the Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) instrument on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity rover. I personally and independently developed a data analysis routine (described in the supplementary material in Chapter 2) that utilizes spectra from Monte Carlo N-Particle Transport models of the experiment and the Markov-chain Monte Carlo method to estimate bulk soil/rock properties. The method also identifies cross-correlation and degeneracies. I use data from two measurement campaigns that I targeted during remote operations at ASU. I find that alteration zones of a sandstone unit in Gale crater are markedly elevated in H content from the parent rock, consistent with the presence of amorphous silica. I posit that these deposits were formed by the most recent aqueous alteration events in the crater, since subsequent events would have produced matured forms of silica that were not observed. I also find that active dunes in Gale crater contain minimal water and I developed a Monte Carlo phase analysis routine to understand the amorphous materials in the dunes.

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by Travis Saint James Gabriel

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