Peter H. Schultz is a professor of geological sciences at Brown University in Providence, R.I., and a science team member of three NASA missions: the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, set to confirm the presence or absence of water ice in a permanently shadowed crater of the moon; New Exploration of Tempel 1, or Stardust-NExT, set to fly by the comet Tempel 1 in 2011; and Deep Impact eXtended Investigation, or DIXI, set to fly by and study comet Hartley 2.
Schultz’s research interests focus on impact-cratering processes revealed by hypervelocity laboratory impact experiments, the planetary surface record and terrestrial ground truth. For the past 25 years, he has served as the science coordinator for the NASA Ames Vertical Gun Range, or AVGR, and actively uses the facility with his students.
Schultz and his students have studied atmospheric effects on crater formation and ejecta emplacement, survival of the impactor, high-speed spectroscopy of impact vapor/plasma, magnetic field generation by hypervelocity impacts, impact angle effects on vaporization, impact angle effects on shock propagation and target damage, and general crater scaling relations.
Insights from such experiments led to Schultz’s participation as a co-investigator in NASA’s discovery mission called “Deep Impact
.” The mission sent a 360 kg mass into a comet at 10.2 km/sec, helping researchers better understand craters, and the cratering process in contrasting planetary settings. For example, studies suggest that the atmosphere, rather than water, is the controlling variable for the fluidized ejecta around Martian craters. As a Magellan
guest investigator, Schultz’s experiments allowed him to interpret the nature of the ejecta deposits and crater morphology on Venus. In addition, his experiments have provided insights for the survival of celestial bodies following enormous collisions.
Most recently, Schultz has discovered impacts found within certain stratigraphic levels in late Cenozoic Argentine sediments of Argentina. To date, at least seven separate events have been discovered. He and his colleagues are using these dated glass deposits to redefine the stratigraphy of the Argentine sediments across the Pampas, or lowlands.
He also continues to participate in a wide range of public and education outreach activities and is the director of both the Rhode Island Space Grant Program
and theNortheast Planetary Data Center
at Brown University.
During the past several years, he has appeared on many television programs highlighting some of his research: LCROSS mission
(KQED); Comet Collision
(Discovery Channel); Space Mysteries Series
(National Geographic); The Universe
(History Channel); Miracle Planet 2
(NHK), Fireballs from Space
(Discovery Channel), 96 Worlds and Counting
(Discovery Channel), Projectiles
(The Learning Channel, BBC), Known Universe
(National Geographic), The Last Extinction
(NOVA-NOW, PBS), and Earth Shocks
Schultz received the 2004 Barringer Medal
, an award for his contributions to the study of the impact-cratering process from the Meteoritical Society
. He received his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin, and BA from Carleton College, Northfield, Minn.