Learning from craters on Mars

Louisa Rader

Academic focus: astronomy and dance double major

I have always loved the sky and I am curious about how things work in space and determining solutions for things we do not yet know or understand in our universe.

I am fascinated by planetary science, the study of planetary bodies—Mercury, Venus, the Moon, Mars, and exoplanets, and more specifically, planetary geology.

In 2017,  I was encouraged by my professor Darby Dyar to pursue research internships and spent the summer at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  This summer internship led to a senior independent research project on impact craters—when a large mass or projectile impacts the surface of a planet and leaves a crater.

My focus is on craters on Mars that occur on the edge of Valles Marineris with advisors at University of Tennessee and NASA. Researchers can use craters to date certain planetary events, understand the process of planetary evolution, determine the chemical composition of a planet’s aspects, and figure out how different features have formed; craters set up a relative timeline of the planetary body at hand.

The Mount Holyoke Astronomy Department has been a wonderful and powerful resource for me, and my relationship with faculty and peers has been unparalleled. The faculty there have instilled confidence within me, provided me with amazing opportunities, and have acted as my family within the small department at Mount Holyoke.

As a woman in STEM, I have mentors and advisors at Mount Holyoke who are highly successful, supportive, and resourceful people from all backgrounds of knowledge who care about my success as a student in my field.