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SwRI's Wyrick receives 2004 Pellas-Ryder Award

San Antonio, Texas -- October 17, 2005 -- Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®) Scientist Danielle Y. Wyrick has received the 2004 Pellas-Ryder Award for the Best Student Paper in Planetary Science by the Meteoritical Society and the Planetary Geology Division of the Geological Society of America. She is the principal author of the paper, "Distribution, Morphology, and Origins of Martian Pit Crater Chains," which was published in the June 2004 issue of Journal of Geophysical Research while she was pursuing a master's degree in geology at The University of Texas at San Antonio and working as a student assistant at SwRI.

"The article provides a new understanding of pit crater chains on Mars that has relevance to interpreting crustal processes on other terrestrial planetary bodies," said Dr. David Ferrill, director of the SwRI Earth, Material and Planetary Sciences Department and a co-author of the paper. With funding from SwRI's internal research program, Wyrick sorted and organized the huge image data set for Mars, assisted by fellow SwRI Scientist Shannon Colton, who extracted data from various space instruments.

"Danielle produced a comprehensive map of pit chains in the western hemisphere of Mars," continued Ferrill. "She measured, calculated volumes for, and analyzed the shapes of 150 individual pits. These analyses were used to interpret a sequence of pit chain development and to evaluate the various proposed mechanisms for pit chains.

"Danielle's exhaustive reading and comprehensive mapping of pit craters on Mars created a core of work that drove the paper to clear conclusions," said Ferrill. "The faults could now serve as reservoirs for water or ice, making these locations of potentially great interest to the scientific community searching for signs of life on Mars."

The Pellas-Ryder Award, named for Paul Pellas and Graham Ryder, recognizes the best student paper in planetary science published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Pellas was a distinguished meteorite scientist at the Museum D'Histoire Naturelle in Paris, best known for his studies of Pu-244 fission-track thermochronometry of chondrites. Ryder was a highly respected lunar scientist who provided authoritative constraints on the cataclysmic bombardment history of the Earth and moon.

Wyrick will receive the Pellas-Ryder Award on October 18 during the Planetary Geology Division luncheon at the Geological Society of America meeting in Salt Lake City. She continues to work in the SwRI Geosciences Division and is pursuing a doctorate in geology from UTSA. Her current work focuses on understanding faulting and fracturing processes on Earth, Mars and Ganymede.

For more information, contact Deb Schmid, Communications Department, (210) 522-2254, Southwest Research Institute, PO Drawer 28510, San Antonio, TX 78228-0510.

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