Tucson, Ariz. -- Elisabetta “Betty” Pierazzo, a leading expert in the modeling of impact crater formation, has been honored with an impact crater named for her on the Moon.
Pierazzo was an expert in the area of impact modeling throughout the solar system, as well as an expert on the astrobiological and environmental effects of impacts on Earth and Mars. At the time of her death in 2011, Betty worked as a Senior Scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Ariz.
“It is wonderful that Betty is being honored with a lunar crater,” said Mark Sykes, Planetary Science Institute director. “It is a fitting memorial to her research.”
The 9-kilometer diameter crater is located on the far side of the Moon. Bright rays of ejected material extend more than 450 kilometers from the crater rim, suggesting that the crater was formed by a relatively recent impact event. Furthermore, new high-resolution images obtained from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) suggest that rocks melted by the impact event were thrown out as part of the rocky ejecta around the crater, and launched tens of kilometers from its rim. The newly appointed “Pierazzo Crater” provides an important data point toward testing the various theories for how impact melt is emplaced.
The name “Pierazzo” was pre-approved for use by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) earlier this year. Pierazzo Crater is described in a paper recently submitted to Geophysical Research Letters, led by Veronica Bray of the University of Arizona. The IAU formally approved the name in May of this year, a timely commemoration to her as it marks four years since her tragic loss in her heroic battle with cancer.
Pierazzo was passionate about education, teaching and public outreach, developing planetary-related classroom materials, professional development workshops for teachers, and teaching college-level classes herself. Betty believed in the strength of broad collaborations in all of her research and education activities. The Planetary Science Institute Pierazzo International Student Travel Award was started in 2014 to support and encourage graduate students to build international collaborations and relationships in planetary science. This award memorializes the scope of how she lived her life and the good she sought to bring to our profession and communities. Visit http://www.psi.edu/pista
to learn more about the Pierazzo International Student Travel Award.
In addition to her contributions to impact cratering, Betty was an active member of the public outreach community. She brought impact science to public schools in Arizona and beyond. Before her passing, Betty served as co-editor of a new book on impact cratering, “Impact Cratering: Processes and Products.” This was a much-needed contribution to the scientific community, given that there are so few academic books on such a complex and important topic in the field of planetary geosciences.