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Research Fellows Directory

Katherine Joy

Dr Katherine Joy

Research Fellow


University of Manchester

Research summary

The Earth and the Moon likely share a common origin but they provide us with very different views of how planets work and how wider Solar System processes have shaped their evolution. The Moon’s surface is covered in large circular depressions - these are impact craters that were created when fragments of rock and ice slammed into the Moon throughout the last 4.5 billion years (Ga). Evidence of these catastrophic events is ubiquitous on other planets and moons in the Solar System. However, a complete record of bombardment is particularly hard to find here on Earth as most terrestrial impact craters have been subsequently reworked by other geological processes. Rocks from the Moon provide a vital archive to understand the Earth distant past as they preserve unique information about when the inner Solar System was being bombarded, and what types of impactors (e.g. asteroids or comets) were hitting the Moon. It is a controversial topic, however, the ancient and accessible nature of the lunar surface makes it an ideal place to study impact processes and understand the geological evolution of small rocky planetary bodies. I use a range of analytical techniques to study the mineralogy, chemistry and age of samples from the Moon returned by the Apollo missions and found here on Earth as lunar meteorites. My research aims to constrain the number of impacts recorded in different lunar samples to determine when the Moon was being bombarded, and to also understand the sources of projectiles delivered to the inner Solar System through time.

My expertise in studying the lunar samples has contributed to science planning, laboratory experiment support and interpretation of data from experiments flown on international missions to the Moon (SMART-1: European Space Agency; Chandrayaan-1: Indian Space Research Organisation). I am currently a member of ESA’s Lunar Sample Return Science Definition Team, and look forward to developing techniques for analysing material collected by future missions to the Moon and other rocky planetary bodies.

Interests and expertise (Subject groups)

Grants awarded

The Moon’s archive of Solar System bombardment

Scheme: University Research Fellowship

Dates: Oct 2015 - Sep 2020

Value: £473,558.65

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