Meteorite Sample Requests

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Sample Requests, Allocations and Loans


Requests for US Antarctic Meteorite samples are welcomed from research scientists from around the world, regardless of their current state of funding for meteorite studies. Requests will be handled according to applicable US laws and regulations. Samples can be requested from any meteorite that has been made available through announcement in any issue of the Antarctic Meteorite Newsletter (beginning with volume 1, number 1 in June, 1978). Student requests should have a supervising scientist listed to confirm access to facilities for analysis. All sample requests will be reviewed in a timely manner (see figure below for the steps involved in requesting, receiving, and returning samples to JSC). Requests are divided into two categories for evaluation:

  • Many requests for equilibrated ordinary chondrites and other more common or large meteorites can be reviewed by the NASA Antarctic Meteorite Curator, who forwards a recommendation to the Meteorite Steering Group for final decision. If accepted, samples can be allocated within several months.
  • Requests which are not eligible for review by the NASA Curator are evaluated by the Meteorite Working Group (MWG). Such requests are divided into seven categories:
    • Requests for samples announced in the most recent Antarctic Meteorite Newsletter.
    • Requests for samples on the protected (or special) list.
    • Requests for samples that are small (< 30 g) or rare.
    • Requests made by new PIs.
    • Requests for >5 g of a meteorite.
    • Requests involving destructive on a thin or thick section for which only a small number of sections (<5) are available.
    • Requests for allocations of large fractions of the remaining masses of meteorites (>25% for equilibrated ordinary chondrites or >10% for all other types) for non-destructive analysis. These will only be considered if: (1) it can be shown that any analyses will be non-destructive (for example CT scanning can have effects on sample thermos-luminescence or organics), (2) the samples would be handled with attention paid to sample loss and minimal organic or inorganic contamination (e.g., use of gloves and double bagging to minimize organic contamination and use of stainless steel or aluminum implements to minimize inorganic contamination), (3) the samples would only be away from JSC for a short time, and (4) the scientific reasons for the measurements are shown to be compelling.

The Meteorite Working Group (MWG) is a panel of experts convened to advise the curators on sample allocation. The MWG meets twice a year, in late September and mid–March. In addition to evaluating meteorite sample requests, MWG maintains and updates the Antarctic meteorite "special list". Allocation recommendations from MWG must be approved by the Meteorite Steering Group, which consists of a representative of each of the agencies involved in ANSMET program — NSF, NASA, and the Smithsonian Institution.

Summary of Steps involved in the Sample Request Process
Summary of steps involved in requesting samples, evaluating requests, receiving Antarctic meteorite samples, and returning them to JSC.