Dr. Debra Hurwitz

Dr. Debra Hurwitz

Postdoctoral Fellow

Lunar and Planetary Institute, USRA
3600 Bay Area Blvd
Houston, Texas 77058, USA

I am a postdoctoral fellow at the LPI-JSC Center for Lunar Science and Exploration.  My current research focuses on the evolution of the impact melt pool that was generated during the formation of the South Pole-Aitken basin on the Moon.  Ultimately this research should identify sources for mineralogies and lithologies observed at the surface of the SPA basin as well as add constraints to the timing of SPA formation.

In previous research I investigated the formation of sinuous rilles on all of the terrestrial planetary bodies.  I used the various planetary bodies in the inner Solar System as a celestial laboratory to observe how variations in gravity, slope, surface cohesion, lava composition, and atmosphere affected formation and morphology of sinuous rilles.  I used observations of rille morphology as inputs into analytical models in order to determine the relative significance of mechanical and thermal erosion in the formation of features carved by lava.  Results of my analyses indicate that mechanical erosion was likely to have dominated during the formation of lava channels that formed on unconsolidated, steep surfaces of planets with high gravity, such as in some conditions observed in the Elysium Planitia region on Mars.  Alternatively, my results indicate that thermal erosion was likely to have dominated during the formation of lava channels that formed on rigid, shallow-sloping surfaces of planets with low gravity, such as in most conditions observed on the Moon and on Mercury.

I was involved with both the LROC (LRO) and MDIS (MESSENGER) teams, contributing to target selection and analyses of images collected by the cameras aboard the LRO and MESSENGER spacecraft.

In addition to research, I am also interested in human exploration of other planetary bodies, in particular the Moon and Mars.  I have participated in Desert RATS (2011) as backroom (GeoSamples lead) and frontroom (SciCom) support for a simulated mission to an asteroid, and I hope to support and facilitate missions in the future.


Dr. Hurwitz's CV

Dr. Hurwitz's Publications

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Last updated
September 4, 2012