In situ calibration of the Martian cratering chronology

Stephanie C. Werner
Meteoritics & Planetary Science (in Press) Link to Article []
Centre for Earth Evolution and Dynamics, Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, , 0315 Oslo, Norway
Published by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons

Crater densities on planetary surfaces allow assessing relative ages but so far firm calibration of so‐called cratering‐chronology models is available only for the Moon and limited to the past 4.1 billion years. Most planetary geological time scales are still model‐dependent, and essentially constrained by meteorite ages or by comparison to (dynamical) solar system evolution models. Here we describe in situ calibration of the Martian cratering chronology using cosmogenic and radiogenic isotope ages obtained by the NASA Curiosity rover. We determined the cratering‐rate ratio between Moon and Mars for recent times, and extended the calibration of cratering rates to earlier times than those based exclusively on lunar data. Our preferred interpretation supports monotonic flux decay since at least 4.24 Ga and likely since about 4.45 Ga, implying orbital migration of the giant planets, and its direct, transient, dynamical effect on the planetesimal populations was initiated early. But only Martian Sample Return will provide strongly needed capability for distinction of the different models currently available.


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