LPI Welcomes Fulbright Senior Scholar Studying Impact Craters

February 14, 2023

Dr. Anna Losiak doing scientific fieldwork

Dr. Anna (Ania) Losiak at the Campo del Cielo in Argentina. Credit: A. Losiak.

We are delighted to announce that Dr. Anna (Ania) Losiak will visit the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) in Houston, Texas, as a Fulbright Senior Scholar from March to July 2023. Dr. Losiak, a planetary geologist from the Institute of Geological Sciences of the Polish Academy of Sciences, will be hosted by Dr. David Kring, who leads the Center for Lunar Science and Exploration at the LPI.

Dr. Losiak will study the environmental effects and process of proximal ejecta deposition around the best-preserved impact crater on Earth. She will conduct fieldwork at Meteor Crater in Arizona as part of her project.

“During my Fulbright fellowship, I will look for more evidence of murderous behavior of asteroids,” says Dr. Losiak. “Recently, we found pieces of charred bodies of organisms that were killed and grilled during the formation of very small impact craters, such as the 90-meter-in diameter Morasko crater in Poland or 110-meter-in-diameter Kaali crater in Estonia. Additionally, we discovered that those charcoals have unusual reflective properties that can be used to determine energy distribution within environment around such features.”

Dr. Anna Losiak holding a shovel in a forest, in front of a pond

Dr. Losiak at Kaali crater in Estonia. Credit: A. Losiak.

Dr. Anna Losiak sitting on a large rock

Dr. Losiak on a recent field trip at the Campo del Cielo. Credit: A. Losiak.

However, Losiak further explains that all of the craters studied so far are smaller than ~100 meters in diameter, and we do not know if similar charcoals can be also found within significantly larger, kilometer-sized craters like Barringer. “I hope this study will help to better understand effects of such small, but relatively common, cosmic collision events, and better prepare us for ones in the future,” she said.

This is the second Fulbright grant awarded to Dr. Losiak. In 2007, she received the Fulbright Graduate Student Award, which she credits as having a profound impact on the trajectory of her career. The graduate award supported her participation in the Lunar Exploration Summer Intern Program hosted by the LPI in 2008. During that summer, Losiak and a cohort of interns worked to evaluate possible lunar landing sites for robotic and human exploration missions.

“We’re delighted to welcome Dr. Losiak back to the LPI to continue her planetary science research,” says Dr. Lisa Gaddis, the director of the LPI. “As the U.S. prepares to return to the Moon with Artemis, now is the perfect time for Anna to dig into a study of impact crater ejecta in the field and in the laboratory with LPI's David Kring.”

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program of the U.S. government. The LPI is honored to be one of 18 host institutions for Fulbright Senior Award Scholars from Poland.

For more information on the Polish-Fulbright Program, visit https://fulbright.edu.pl/.

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