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Branching Out Across the Solar System

Taylor Perron, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Friday, February 19, 2016 - 2:30pm
Kane Hall 110
Taylor Perron Poster

River networks, which branch like tree limbs across the landscape, are one of Earth’s most widespread and recognizable surface features. They have also been discovered on two other Solar System bodies, Mars and Saturn’s moon Titan. What do these striking landscape patterns tell us about the histories of alien worlds? I will show how mathematical and computational descriptions of slow-acting geological processes, combined with measurements of today’s landscapes, have provided a new perspective on the origin and evolution of river networks. I will then direct your gaze to Titan, where an exotic cocktail of materials and conditions has formed a deceptively Earth-like landscape, and show what our Earthly knowledge can teach us about this mysterious world.

Taylor Perron is Associate Professor of Geology in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at MIT. He studies how landscapes form and evolve on Earth and other planets, at scales ranging from ripples in sand to oceans on Mars. Taylor is a recipient of the Luna Leopold Young Scientist Award and the James B. Macelwane Medal of the American Geophysical Union. He received his AB in Earth and Planetary Sciences and Archaeology from Harvard University in 1999, and his PhD in Earth and Planetary Science from the University of California, Berkeley in 2006.

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