What are the origins of our planet, and the solar system that surrounds it? Without a direct geological record of the early history of the Earth, understanding how Earth and Moon were formed requires investigations in several distinct fields: Planetary dynamics, cosmo-chemistry and mass spectrometry, and material behaviour at the extreme conditions of planetary impacts and formation. In a special issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Professor Andrew Jephcoat (Principal Beamline Scientist on Diamond’s "Extreme Conditions" beamline, and Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford) with Professor Alex Halliday (also from the University of Oxford) bring together a group of international experts highlighting recent developments in understanding the complex processes of planet formation: The Earth cooled over 4.55 billion years from a magma-ocean (a molten mass of silicate and metal, hotter than the sun surface, and at millions of atmospheres pressure), to form the atmosphere, solid mantle and metallic liquid core we know exist today.
Left: Cover of the Philosophical Transactions Discussion Meeting Issue ‘Origin and differentiation of the Earth: past to present’ organized by Andrew Jephcoat and Alex Halliday. This is available from the Royal Society: http://journals.royalsociety.org/content/j24308142327/
Prof Jephcoat says, "Recreating in the laboratory the extreme temperatures and pressures of the early Earth can give us deeper insight into the chemical processes involved in determining how our planet came to be the way we observe it today. In recreating these conditions at Diamond, we hope to study the finer structural controls on materials as they segregated in the evolving Earth."
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