Why a Compendium?

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Home Antarctic MeteoritesLunar Meteorite CompendiumWhy a Compendium?

Why a compendium?

The numbers of lunar meteorites are growing quickly in the last few years —as of January 2013 there are approximately 80 meteorites that have been officially classified as having lunar origin ( Table 1 ). Thirteen of these are from the US Antarctic meteorite collection, 6 are from the Japanese Antarctic meteorite collection, and the other 61 are from hot desert localities in Africa, Australia, and the Middle East. [Note: There are actually a total of 165 individual rocks, but many of these have been ‘paired’ with other rocks that have been found together, or are believed to have come from the same ‘parent’ lunar meteorite.]

The total mass of recognized lunar meteorites is approximately 66.6 kg, as compared to the 21.5, 34.4, 42.3, 77.3, 95.7, and 110.5 kg of rock brought back from the Moon by Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17, respectively (e.g., Meyer, 1992). Because of the mass, diversity and number of lunar meteorites in world collections, it was suggested by CAPTEM and other members of the community that a Lunar Meteorite Compendium be initiated.

This is justified for several additional reasons:

  • First, the popularity of Dr. Charles Meyer’s Martian Meteorite Compendium (MMC) provided precedence for initiating a project of this scale.
  • Second, as the lunar science community becomes increasingly geared toward sample return missions, the need arises for a succinct presentation of information about sample collections.
  • Third, a compendium can serve the reader as a springboard into the extensive peer reviewed literature.
  • And fourth, the several books and resources dedicated to lunar materials — Lunar Science: An Apollo perspective (S.R. Taylor, 1982), Basaltic Volcanism Study Project (BVSP, 1981), Origin of the Moon (Hartman, Phillips and G.J. Taylor, 1986), and the Lunar Source Book (Heiken, Vaniman and Phillips, 1991) — all pre-date the recent explosion of lunar meteorites. One exception is the New Views of the Moon book (released in 2006) where lunar meteorites are nicely integrated into many of the chapters of this book (Jolliff, Wieczorek, Shearer and Neal, 2006).

There have been a few journal issues dedicated to specific lunar meteorites, but these have been more than 10 years ago, e.g., ALH A81005 in 1982 Geophysical Research Letters, MAC 88105 in 1991 Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, and EET 96008 in 1999 Meteoritics and Planetary Science. In addition, Randy Korotev, of Washington University in St. Louis, has written a thorough review article regarding lunar meteorites (Korotev, 2005).

All of these reasons have influenced the curation office at JSC to initiate a Lunar Meteorite Compendium.

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