The team also collected two deliberate "meteowrongs" - two Antarctic dolerites (basalts) which were found on the ice and collected using the same procedures as meteorites. These terrestrial rocks are available as controls/blanks for studies of organics/life in martian meteorites. (see EET96400 and EET96401 listing). Ralph Harvey will do petrographic documentation for them after they arrive at JSC, but investigators may request them now.
Cecilia Satterwhite took over management of the MPL last spring. She and Kathleen McBride have been doing an excellent job of keeping allocations and sample descriptions going despite a huge influx of visitors and "meteorites" sent to us by the public. Cecilia is available to answer questions about sample processing, but remember that her bark is worse than her bite.
Claire Dardano is our computer programmer who is responsible for the meteorite database. She keeps us honest with real data and keeps our VAX database running. She is beginning to transition the data to a modern PC database. This task will also include input of balance and imaging data electronically. When the job is done the data should be much more accessible to investigators. Claire and graphic artist Anita Dodson created and maintain the curator's website. They responded overnight in setting up a martian meteorite website from the text of the curator's display. Claire also assembled the Ancient Martian Meteorites Proposal Information Package from text provided by the curator. Anita prepares all our newsletters, exhibits and public handouts. They do a great job of transforming our detailed work into something readable and attractive.
We have never forgotten that meteorite science is our first responsibility. Our new work has focused on two areas: 1) documenting what we know about martian meteorites for headquarters, MWG, and investigators. This was presented at two levels, for meteoriticists in the Mars Meteorite Compendium, and for newcomers from other fields of science in the Mars Meteorite Proposal Information Package. 2) evaluating our lab and procedures for possible organic contamination. At our request, headquarters convened a blue ribbon panel chaired by Jeff Bada (UCSD) to help us evaluate organic contamination. We compiled detailed information about our meteorite curation techniques for the committee's reference. They visited JSC in late December and their report is expected soon.
We are supporting NASA headquarters and NSF in martian meteorite research. Both NASA and NSF have announced funding opportunities for studying possible fossil life in martian meteorites. We prepared the Proposal Information Package on the web to support both programs. It tells investigators everything they want to know about martian meteorites, especially the five in our collection. The sample request deadline for martian meteorites is just past, so we are now preparing request summaries for both funding panels and for a special MWG meeting to handle the requests. (All requests for ALH84001 were tabled at the September MWG meeting.) The reviews of proposals and sample requests by the three panels will be an iterative process between NASA, NSF and MWG. Funding proposals will not be approved if they depend on requests for Antarctic meteorites which are unreasonable (too much or non-existent samples). We hope to be able to allocate samples by April.
Meanwhile, life goes on and we have a lab full of other meteorites, this newsletter to publish, requests and MWG meetings to support, and allocations and new meteorites to process. That work goes on amidst the chaos of martian meteorites. We thank investigators for their patience if we are slower than usual.
The following back issues of publications are|
available at no cost from the
Smithsonian Contributions to the Earth Sciences. These volumes contain descriptions, with photos, of Antarctic meteorites and field recovery programs from 1976-1987. Available volumes are #23 (76,77), #24 (78,79),
#26 (80,81), #28 (82,83), and #30(84-86, including ALH 84001).
The Microscopic Properties of Meteorites, by Tschermak (1885). Translated by Wood (1965) and including numerous
wonderful photographs of meteorites in thin section.
The Microscopic Properties of Meteorites, by Tschermak (1885). Translated by Wood (1965) and including numerous wonderful photographs of meteorites in thin section.
To request copies contact: Dr. Tim McCoy, Dept. of Mineral