How did our solar system originate? What chain of events led to its creation? Just as detectives look for traces of evidence to solve a mystery, astronomers analyze the evidence that points to the formation of the Sun and planets. In particular, they study the influence that impacts and collisions had on the worlds of the solar system. The most dramatic evidence for this collisional history of solar system evolution are the impact craters found on almost all the bodies in the solar system, including Earth. These surface scars tell us the formation history of planets, moons, and rings was violent. Yet today, we live in a relatively stable solar system, made possible by the shattering collisions that shaped our worlds.
This program gives us a unique look at the formation of the solar system by tracing the role that collisions played throughout its history. Beginning with the condensation of the initial cloud of gas and cosmic dust, we explore the history of planetary formation and the mechanism of accretion that played an important role in shaping the worlds of the solar system.