14:51 PM

USRA/LPI Welcomes Fulbright Senior Scholar Studying Impact Craters

Washington, DC and Houston, TX—February 14, 2023. USRA is 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.

Photo of Dr. Losiak conducting field at Kaali crater in Estonia. Credit: A. Losiak.

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

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.”

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/.



About USRA        
Founded in 1969, under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences at the request of the U.S. Government, the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) is a nonprofit corporation chartered to advance space-related science, technology, and engineering. USRA operates scientific institutes and facilities and conducts other major research and educational programs. USRA engages the university community and employs in-house scientific leadership, innovative research and development, and project management expertise. More information about USRA is available at www.usra.edu.

About LPI        
The Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI), operated by Universities Space Research Association, was established during the Apollo program in 1968 to foster international collaboration and to serve as a repository for information gathered during the early years of the space program. Today, the LPI is an intellectual leader in lunar and planetary science. The Institute serves as a scientific forum attracting world-class visiting scientists, postdoctoral fellows, students, and resident experts; supports and serves the research community through newsletters, meetings, and other activities; collects and disseminates planetary data while facilitating the community's access to NASA science; and engages, excites, and educates the public about space science and invests in the development of future generations of explorers. The research carried out at the LPI supports NASA's efforts to explore the solar system. More information about LPI is available at www.lpi.usra.edu.