Meteoroids, meteors, meteorites: What is the science behind impact crater formation?

Project specs




Gordon Osinski



Funding agency

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada




Impact craters are scattered across Earth’s surface, but meteoroids first face the challenge of passing through Earth’s atmosphere, producing impressive shooting stars (meteors) before they even come close to reaching the ground. Not all meteorite impacts leave a scar on the planet, but those that do can be powerful enough to cause mass extinctions. Yet from destruction, life can blossom, with these hotspots of evolution also housing huge economic metal deposits to help society prosper.

Researcher Profile

Dr. Gordon “Oz” Osinski is a Professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Western Ontario, Canada. Dr. Osinski is also the Director of the Institute for Earth and Space Exploration at Western and the Canadian Lunar Research Network. Dr. Osinski’s research interests are diverse and interdisciplinary in nature and focuses on understanding the evolution of the surface of the Earth and other planetary bodies as well as the origin and evolution of life. His main focus is on understanding impact cratering as a planetary geological process, on the Earth, Moon and Mars. He has received numerous awards for this research, including the Young Scientist Medal of the Mineralogical Association of Canada (2015), the W. W. Hutchison Medal of the Geological Association of Canada (2018), and the Barringer Medal of the Meteoritical Society (2021). Dr. Osinski is also involved in several past and ongoing exploration-related activities and he is a Co-I on the PanCam instrument on the 2022 ExoMars mission to Mars. Dr. Osinski is also involved in providing geology training to Canadian and US astronauts. Finally, he is passionate about outreach and science communication and leads several initiatives, including Space Matters and Impact Earth.

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