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Moons of our Solar System
Moons of our Solar System

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2.7 Making an impact

In the decades since Gene Shoemaker’s discoveries in Arizona, the impact model of crater formation has gained wide acceptance.

Using data from computer-based modelling and real lab-based experiments, planetary scientists now know that when an impactor hits the ground at hypervelocity, most of the impactor material is vaporised, and the crater itself is excavated by intense shock waves, radiating out from the point of impact.

This video includes some classic experiments from the mid 1980s.

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