On the Survivability and Detectability of Terrestrial Meteorites on the Moon


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Materials blasted into space from the surface of early Earth may preserve a unique record of our planet's early surface environment. Armstrong et al. (2002) pointed out that such materials, in the form of terrestrial meteorites, may exist on the Moon and be of considerable astrobiological interest if biomarkers from early Earth are preserved within them. Here, we report results obtained via the AUTODYN hydrocode to calculate the peak pressures within terrestrial meteorites on the lunar surface to assess their likelihood of surviving the impact. Our results confirm the order-of-magnitude estimates of Armstrong et al. (2002) that substantial survivability is to be expected, especially in the case of relatively low velocity (ca. 2.5 km/s) or oblique (<=45*) impacts, or both. We outline possible mechanisms for locating such materials on the Moon and conclude that searching for them would be a scientifically valuable activity for future lunar exploration. Astrobiology 8, 242-252.

Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 242-252.

http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2007.0215

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