• Question: what type of rocks do you study?

    Asked by Eagles1Nathan to Phil, Lucy on 14 Mar 2017.
    • Photo: Lucy Kissick

      Lucy Kissick answered on 14 Mar 2017:

      Right now I’m looking at a mudstone on Mars as seen by NASA’s robot Curiosity. Mudstones are just what they sound like: mud that has been turned into stone with time. This mud formed on the bottom of a lakebed when fine material like dust settled to the lake floor and piled up.

    • Photo: Phil Sutton

      Phil Sutton answered on 14 Mar 2017:

      The rocks I study are actually orbiting closely to planets in large groups. They technically form a ring like Saturn’s. I am not concerned what they are made of but more how they move in space on their orbits. For example how do these rocks come together and grow (known as accretion) to form moons or planets? I compare my computer programs I write to data of spacecraft around other planets like Saturn to see if I match real observations. If I can create the same features in the rings as we see in real life it means we understand the physics behind what is going on.