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Furthermore, some surfaces, such as those of the icy satellites of Jupiter and Saturn, may not yield rocks that are datable by current isotopic techniques.
On the other hand, most solid bodies in the solar system display a record of accumulated impact cratering on their surfaces.
Many rocks have complex histories, and the challenge in isotopic age determination is to unravel and date not one, but each of the events that affected their evolution.] To date, only terrestrial, lunar, and meteoritic samples have been dated by isotopic methods.
Refractory inclusions in primitive chondrites are the oldest-known materials, and chondrules are generally a few million years younger.Cratering rates are estimated from the collision rates and from the masses and impact velocities of the colliding bodies by means of either empirical crater scaling laws or by more elaborate computer calculation of crater formation (Shoemaker, 1977).] Significant uncertainties are associated with each of these steps, particularly with the assignment of masses and with the calculation of crater sizes.One vexing problem is that, although comets have been and remain important impacting bodies, our knowledge of the sizes and densities of their nuclei remains especially poor (Wilkening, 1982).Surface histories tell us how these bodies evolved through time and provide information on the probable causes for observed differences.To establish a surface history, it is necessary to determine the sequence of various geologic events and, if possible, their duration.