Solar System PhD Projects
PhD Research Projects on offer in our Solar System Group:
Contact-binary conundrum – formation processes in small Solar System Bodies
- Video: Contact-binary conundrum – formation processes in small Solar System Bodies
- Description of PhD project
Near-Earth Objects, a particularly important population of small bodies because of their potential risk of collision with the Earth, can originate from both asteroids and comets. Internal structures and material differences between asteroids and comets mean that they present different impact hazards, and need to be taken into account when scaling the results of the recent NASA DART mission. A characteristic of most spacecraft-visited comets is their distinct contact-binary shape, resembling two bodies stuck together. Those shapes can be also found amongst near-Earth asteroids; they are estimated to be about 30% of the population as determined by planetary radar observations. Could the peculiar shape be linked to a common formation scenario for both asteroids and comets? In this project the candidate will use planetary radar, an excellent source of shape information, to investigate morphology of selected contact-binary asteroids to understand their origin and explore possible links to comets.