Please note that the application period for the 2012 Nininger Meteorite Award has now closed. As a part of your application, we require a letter of support from your advisor. When both your application and letter of support are on file, we will inform you that your application is complete. All application materials are due by midnight (MST), February 15, 2013.
In 1965, Dr. H.H. Nininger and Mrs. Addie D. Nininger endowed the Nininger Science of Meteoritics Fund to the Center for Meteorite Studies at Arizona State University in order to promote interest in meteorite-related topics among young scientists. The Fund supports the Nininger Meteorite Award, which recognizes outstanding student achievement in the “Science of Meteoritics” as embodied by an original research paper. Past recipients include Harry Y. McSween (University of Tennessee), Edward Stolper (California Institute of Technology) and the recipients of the 2005 Barringer Award (Billy P. Glass, University of Delaware) and Leonard Medal (Joseph Goldstein, University of Massachusetts, Amherst).
Download a list of the past recipients.
The original text of the Nininger endowment states that the "Science of Meteoritics embraces all aspects of the study of inert natural matter existing in space, passing through the atmosphere, or having come to Earth from space, together with any or all of the phenomena occasioned by its fall and its effect upon the Earth or upon any other member of the Solar System. Such science shall also be considered to include theoretical consideration as to the origin of such matter and special relationships". Research topics covered under this description include, but are not limited to, physical and chemical properties of meteorites, origin of meteoritic material and cratering. Observational, experimental, statistical or theoretical investigations are allowed.
- Applicant must be an undergraduate or graduate student enrolled at a United States college or university.
- The student must be first author of the paper, but does not have to be the sole author.
- Qualifying papers must cover original research conducted by the student.
2012 Nininger Meteorite Award Recipient
The ASU Center for Meteorite Studies is pleased to announce that Brandon Johnson, a graduate student at Purdue University, is the recipient of the 2012 Nininger Meteorite Award!
Brandon's paper, “Impact spherules as a record of an ancient heavy bombardment of Earth”, demonstrates a method to estimate the size and velocity of objects impacting Earth that create a spherule layer, based on the layer thickness and the average spherule size within the layer.
Asteroids hitting the Earth typically vaporize a mass of target rock comparable to the projectile's mass. As this vapor expands in a large plume or fireball, it cools and condenses into molten droplets. For asteroids larger than ~10 kilometers in diameter, these spherules are deposited in a global layer. Spherule layers preserved in the geologic record accordingly provide information about an impact even when a source crater cannot be found.
On Earth, impact craters can be quickly obscured or destroyed by surface weathering and tectonic processes. Thus, Earth's impact history is inferred from estimates of the current day impactor flux or the incomplete impact chronology of the moon. However, using geologic observations of spherule layers, and their method to determine the sizes of the projectiles that created the layers, Brandon and co-author Jay Melosh make the first direct estimates of the Earth's bombardment history. These estimates imply that the impactor flux was significantly higher 2.5 to 3.5 billion years ago than it is today. This conclusion is consistent with a steady decline in the post Late Heavy Bombardment impactor flux and can help constrain dynamical models of the solar system.
Brandon’s research was conducted under the advisement of Dr. H. Jay Melosh.
Each submission was reviewd by a panel of experts from a broad array of fields in meteoritical science.