Requesting Antarctic Meteorite Samples
Who can request samples?
Requests for US Antarctic Meteorite samples are welcomed from research scientists of all countries, regardless of their current state of funding for meteorite studies. Student requests should have a supervising scientist listed to confirm access to facilities for analysis.
How do you make a request?
An electronic request form must be filled out for any Antarctic meteorite sample. All necessary information should be typed on the electronic form, although informative attachments are welcome (examples: Reprints of publication that explain rationale, flow diagrams for analyses, etc.)
Important Information that you need to know when making a sample request:
- Each request should accurately refer to meteorite samples by their respective identification numbers and should provide detailed scientific justification for proposed research. See Where can you find sample identification numbers? for sample numbers.
- Specific requirements for samples, such as sizes or weights, particular locations (if applicable) within individual specimens, or special handling or shipping procedures should be explained in each request.
- Some meteorites are small, of rare type, or are considered special because of unusual properties. Therefore, it is very important that all requests specify both the optimum amount of material needed for the study and the minimum amount of material that can be used.
- Requests for thin sections which will be used in destructive procedures such as ion probe, laser ablation, etch or even repolishing, must be stated explicitly.
- Consortium requests should list the members in the consortium.
- Please make a note of the SUBMISSION DEADLINE. The purpose of this deadline is to obtain the information needed to make an informed decision prior to the MWG meetings. Any request received after the deadline may possibly be delayed until the following MWG meeting.
- Please note that the form has signature blocks. These should be used only if the form is sent via FAX or postal service to us. See How do you submit sample requests? for information about submitting sample requests.
How do you submit sample requests?
Click here to download the ELECTRONIC FORM to request samples. This file can be downloaded, read and updated by Microsoft Word®.
Send the form via email to: JSC-ARES-MeteoriteRequest@mail.nasa.gov. The subject line of the message needs to be "MWG Request."
If unable to e-mail the completed form above, make sample requests in writing to:
- Secretary, Meteorite Working Group
- Mail Code XI2
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration
- Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
- 2101 NASA Parkway
- Houston, TX 77058-3696
How are samples prepared and what forms of samples are available?
At JSC, the meteorite samples are prepared several different ways and can be requested accordingly. Most samples are prepared as chips obtained by use of stainless steel chisels and rock splitters in a chipping bowl.
Stainless steel chipping bowls, hammer, and chisels (left and center) and rock splitter (right) are used to process Antarctic meteorites in the US collection at NASA Johnson Space Center.
In cases where a meteorite will be subdivided into many pieces for scientific studies, the samples will be bandsawed dry leading to a 1 to 2-cm thick slab. View a listing of meteorites that have been cut or slabbed at JSC. See more details about sawing and possible effects on samples.
Finally, the meteorite thin section lab at JSC can prepare standard 30-micron thin sections, thick sections of variable thickness (100 to 150 microns are common for LA-ICP-MS or microdrilling), or demountable sections using superglue for use in TEM studies. Water is not used in any part of the thin sectioning process, and instead oil and alcohol are used for the cutting grinding and polishing stages. Polishing compounds are typically diamond paste or diamond fluids, but alumina can be used as a final polish as well. Pure silica slides are available as a substitute for standard petrographic glass slides if necessary.
Thin sections of MIL 03346 nakhlite in plane-polarized light (left) and crossed nicols light (center), and a reflected-light photo of acapulcoite MIL 07582 (right)
How long does it take?
All sample requests will be reviewed in a timely manner and fall under one of the following categories:
Regular Requests - Many requests for equilibrated ordinary chondrites and other more common or large meteorites can be reviewed and assessed by the NASA Antarctic Meteorite Curator, and allocated in the course of several weeks to a month.
Special Requests - Some meteorites are protected because of their small size or their rarity. These meteorites are referred to as "special" and cannot be allocated unilaterally by the NASA Curator. Instead, the requests are reviewed and assessed by the Meteorite Working Group. This group meets twice a year — in late September and mid-March — to discuss meteorites that fall into this category. The deadline for submitting a request is generally three weeks before the scheduled meeting. The Antarctic meteorite"special list" is updated at every meeting; samples can move off the list if a particular meteorite type becomes more common, and new samples are typically moved onto the list if they are unusual finds, or become low in available mass.
Where can you find sample identification numbers?
For sample identification numbers, you can view the most current full sample listing, you can search for sample information using the Classification Database, or you can refer to the Antarctic Meteorite Newsletters.