Antarctic Meteorite NewsletterVolume 32,1

Program News

Curator's Comments
Kevin Righter, NASA-JSC

This newsletter reports 198 new meteorites from the 2006, 2007 and 2008 ANSMET seasons from Dominion Range (DOM), Graves Nunataks (GRA), Larkman Nunatak (LAR), the Miller Range (MIL), and Scott Icefield (SCO). These new samples include one each of a lodranite, acapulcoite, transitional acapulcoite-lodranite, ureilite, two possible mesosiderite clasts, 3 eucrites, three type 3 ordinary chondrites, an L5 chondrite with an impact melt clast, an EH3 the largest, 2.66 kg, ever collected by ANSMET, 2 EL4 chondrites, and 13 carbonaceous chondrites(a CM1/2, a CK,  4 CM, 7 CO).

The US Antarctic meteorite collection had 44 requests at the Spring meeting, and had over 20 since then, so we have been trying to fill as many of the approved requests as possible, while continuing initial processing of the 2006 and 2007 season samples.   In addition, our thin section technician, Carla Reed, gave birth to a baby boy in early July!  So, we have taken the opportunity of her absence from the lab to upgrade a few things – we have added new polishing equipment as well as a new imaging system for the thin section lab.  Other upgrades will continue in the Fall.  We don’t anticipate that this will cause any delays in getting thin sections out to our PIs.


Next newsletter (Spring 2010) will be earlier than usual

Because the 41st Lunar and Planetary Science Conference will be held the first week of March, 2010, and the Meteorite Working Group meets the Friday and Saturday after the LPSC meeting, our Spring newsletter will be released a few weeks earlier than it usually does. This is just a heads up to all of you that sample requests will come sooner than you think next Spring.

New email address for submitting sample requests

Our new email address for requesting samples has been working well. Please continue to use it for sample requests for this newsletter and all future requests:


The new address should ensure that requests will be processed in due time since they can be read by several JSC staff rather than just one person.


Webpage additions – images and HED Compendium in the works

First, the number of images of Antarctic meteorites available on our webpage continues to grow, with many new pages added since the Spring. We hope these will help you better appreciate and understand the samples available in the collection. Please let us know if you see any pages that are not working properly, or if there are certain samples you are interested in, but can find no information online. Many thanks to Alison Gale and Lauren LaCroix at the Smithsonian Institution, and Patricia Huynh and Nancy Todd at NASA-JSC for getting these images produced, organized, and formatted for uploading to our webpages.

Second, with the DAWN spacecraft approaching asteroid 4 Vesta the arrival in 2011, we are starting to organize information we have on the howardite-eucrite-diogenite clan of meteorites, as well as mesosiderites, and to produce a sample compendium for HED meteorites, as the curation office has done for martian and lunar meteorites, and Apollo lunar samples. This summer, Josh Garber, a 2009 B.S. Geology graduate of Univ. of Texas at Austin, has worked with Kevin Righter in preparing an overview summary and the first 10-12 focused chapters on specific classic and Antarctic HEDs such as Stannern, Nuevo Laredo, Pasamonte, Johnstown, Bununu, Moore County, EET A79002, EET 87503 (and pairs), and PCA 91007. These will become available online sometime this fall, and we plan on adding chapters slowly over time, but in sync with the DAWN mission timeline. If there are specific samples you’d like to see summarized, please let K. Righter know and we will try to cover those.

Report from the Smithsonian
Cari Corrigan, Geologist (Dept. of Mineral Sci.)

This newsletter announces the classification of all but 11 of the ’06 meteorites and continues working through the newly received ‘08’s. Things are looking up here in the Division of Meteorites at the Smithsonian. While we are sad to have recently lost Dr. Rhiannon Mayne, our meteorite post doc (who has just started a faculty/curatorial position at Texas Christian University ), we have secured a new post doc to begin in January (watch this space in the next newsletter!). Most importantly, however, we have come through our rough year without a thin section technician and have recently welcomed Jonathon Cooper to our staff to replace Tim Gooding, who made our sections for over 10 years. Jon comes to us from Washington (state), where received a B.S. in Geology (with a concentration in Geophysics) from Western Washington University in Bellingham. He then spent two years working in the oil and gas industry before joining us this past June. We put him straight to work and he has picked up the fine art of thin section making very quickly, making over half of the thin sections we probed for this newsletter. We are extremely pleased to welcome Jon and will continue to make sure the high level of service that you have come to expect from the Smithsonian continues.

Plans for the 2009-2010 Field Season
Ralph Harvey, Principal Investigator, ANSMET

DOM 08006 Feild photo
feild photo of DOM 08006

In all likelihood, the readers of this newsletter are very aware of this summer’s 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing and its subsequent impact on planetary materials research. You may be less aware that 2009 marks another significant 40th anniversary for planetary materials; the first systematic recovery of meteorites from the East Antarctic icesheet took place in December of 1969. Meteorites had been found in Antarctica during some of the earliest inland explorations, starting with the Adelie Land meteorite recovered in 1912; this find was followed by several others as the continent was explored in more detail in the early 60’s. What the members of the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition (JARE) found just before Christmas in 1969, however, was not one, but 9 meteorites spread across a few kilometers of blue ice near the Queen Fabiola (Yamato) Mountains. Subsequent petrographic examinations showed that the specimens represented 5 distinct meteorite groups and suggested the existence of significantly more numerous specimens somewhere out on that ice. Forty years later, with roughly 45,000 Antarctic Meteorite specimens recovered by Japanese, American, Chinese and other expeditions, this resource has joined the Apollo samples among the most important sources of extraterrestrial research material.


Blue Crystal in DOM08006
08006 blue vug

During the upcoming 2009-2010 ANSMET field season, we’ll try to contribute to this total through another systematic search of the icefields adjacent to the Miller Range in the central Transantarctic Mountains. There have been four previous visits to these icefields. The first, a short reconnaissance visit by helicopter, took place in 1985 and yielded a single specimen. A two-person, three-day expedition in 1999 yielded 30 specimens, and a 4-person, 7-day expedition in 2003 yielded about 100 more. Full-scale systematic searching in 2005-06 and 2007 subsequently contributed to a total of over 1000 MIL meteorites recovered so far (including several lunar and martian specimens).

DOB 08006
blue crystal

Our 8-person team will spend 6 weeks combing the large areas of blue ice not yet searched. And indeed, we share some of that same anticipation and excitement first felt by the JARE expedition 40 years ago; knowing that something out-of-this-world awaits us, stuff from space that you can hold in your hand and examine in your laboratories.

As we’ve done in several recent seasons, we hope to maintain a blog with daily entries; to see what’s happening, visit us at: