Given that impact cratering is the most common geological process in the solar system, study of this topic provides an excellent means of interplanetary comparison. One can gain insight into the crustal properties of various solar system bodies, the population of asteroids and comets that potentially could cause impacts, and the varied ways in which impact cratering has influenced the geologic histories of the planets.
The First International Conference on Impact Cratering in the Solar System recently was held at the 40th ESLAB (European Space Laboratory) Symposium at the European Space Agency's European Space Research and Technology Centre, in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. About 150 participants from around the world came to discuss the latest understanding of and issues related to impact cratering in the solar system. The uniqueness of this conference lay in its broad scope, covering everything from the late heavy bombardment controversy to impact-induced mass extinctions. Thus, the conference brought together many scientists of varying expertise who may otherwise have never interacted.