Antarctic Meteorite Newsletter

Acting Meteorite Curator Program News
Carlton Allen

David "Duck" Mittlefehldt served ably and well as Acting Curator of Antarctic Meteorites over the past year. At his request, Duck turned over the Curator's job shortly before joining this year's ANSMET team. Back in Houston after a successful field season (336 new meteorites), he is devoting full time to research. All of us in the Antarctic Meteorite Program thank Duck for his service. We look forward to the chance to hire a Permanent Curator at JSC in the near future. In the interim, I have taken on the job of Acting Curator.

New Meteorites

This newsletter contains classifications for 281 new meteorites. All were collected from the Queen Alexandra Range during the 1999-2000 field season. Most are ordinary chondrites, as is typical of the QUE samples. The collection does include one enstatite achondrite (ungrouped), two eucrites, five CK4 and three CM2 carbonaceous chondrites, one Type 3 chondrite, and one E chondrite. The five CK4 chondrites and two of the CM2 carbonaceous chondrites are tentatively paired. The enstatite chondrite (ungrouped) is paired with a specimen from the 1994 collection. As noted in the previous newsletter, these samples represent an unusual class that deserves detailed study.

Laboratory Upgrade Complete

During the past year, members of a dedicated team from NASA, Lockheed Martin, BRSP, and Honeywell worked together to replace the air handler, modify and clean the ductwork, and upgrade the environmental control system in JSC's Antarctic Meteorite and Cosmic Dust Laboratories. Planning for this project began in 2000 and involved a complex set of tradeoffs among cost, laboratory operational schedules, and the quality concerns of our science oversight committees. Construction began in June 2001 and was completed early in the new year. The labs are up and running again, and air quality is significantly higher than before the upgrade. The project goal was to meet Class 10,000 cleanroom requirements within these labs, and they are now ten times cleaner. The labs have also met the design goal of 0.1 inches of water positive pressure.


The September 11 attacks and subsequent anthrax exposures have led to changes in the JSC Astromaterials Laboratories. Following an internal review, physical security in the laboratories has been increased. Procedures for shipping samples have been changed, particularly for non-U.S. investigators. The requirements and processing time for a visitor to JSC have increased -- greatly so in the case of non-U.S. citizens. Finally, we no longer accept delivery of possible meteorites for identification.

We at JSC do continue our core missions -- providing samples of extraterrestrial material to the international science and education communities and curating samples for future research. We welcome your comments and sample requests and look forward to the results of your research.


Ralph Harvey

Field Team Member photo for the ANTMET 2001-2002 Field Season Many insist that hindsight is 20/20, but in truth, hindsight is as selective and distorting as beer goggles. So rather than wax eloquently on the scientific importance of the 2001-2002 ANSMET field season to Meteorite Hills, let me simply list some interesting facts, and allow the reader to "goggle" over them...

Meteorite specimens recovered during 2001-2002 season: 336 (total, all sites)
Of these...

  • 308 were ordinary chondrites.

  • 10 were achondrites.

  • 11 were carbonaceous chondrites.

  • 2 were irons.

  • 5 were unclassified (terrestrial? ordinary chondrites?).

Total from various sites:

  • Meteorite Hills: 326 (299 ordinary chondrites, 9 achondrites, 11 carbonaceous chondrites, 2 irons, 5 ???).
  • Mt. Crean: 1 achondrite (recovered by the Isbell/Askin science group).
  • Odell Glacier: 3 ordinary chondrites (recovered by a technical event group).
  • Finger Ridge: 6 ordinary Chondrites.

Area of ice searched at Meteorite Hills: roughly equal to last year.

Ratio of workdays/days lost to weather or travel: 25/45 (55%).

Estimated number of e-mails sent from field: roughly 400.

Rate of recovery from Finger Ridge ice fields:

  • 2000-2001 season: 1 specimen per hour per person, on foot.
  • 2001-2002 season: 0.05 specimens per hour per person, on snowmobile.

Percentage of snowmobiles disabled during last day of fieldwork: 50% (4 of the 8).

Number of Scott tents shredded by the wind: 1.

Stated maximum wind speed rating for Scott tent: 200 kph (it was an old tent).

John Schutt's subjective ranking, in terms of maximum wind speed experienced: worst ever.

Number of field party members shredded by the wind or otherwise disabled: none.