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Dr Mark Price

Senior Lecturer in Space Science

Current Research Interests

My research is in the area of hypervelocity impacts, which are ubiquitous throughout the Solar System. My main areas of interest are:

1) Shock synthesis of organics. During impacts at hypervelocities (>1 km/sec), the impacting materials are subject to very high temperature and pressures. Under these extreme conditions molecules can be broken in constituent atoms, and then can recombine into more complex forms (i.e simple ices can form amino acids). This process thereby gives a route for the formation of pre-biotic molecules necessary for life.


A container of ices mimicking the surface of Enceladus being impacted at 6 km/sec. Note the impact flash in the top image, and the ejection of material from the container.


2) Analysis of impact light flashes. Impacts of large (> 1m) objects onto the lunar surface result in a very bright impact flash that can be observed with a moderately sized telescope. One of our main interests is attempting to do spectroscopy of these flashes to gain insight into the impacting body’s composition and velocity. Currently we are doing shots in the light gas gun at Kent to mimic these impacts (albeit at a much smaller scale) to understand the dynamics of the flash.


Impact of steel projectile onto basalt target at approximately 5 km/sec. Note the impact flash in the top image, and the spectrum of the flash in the bottom image.


Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository