Center for Meteorite Studies

Ariel Anbar (Professor, School of Earth and Space Exploration) Dr. Anbar, the Principal Investigator of ASU's NASA Astrobiology Institute team, is a biogeochemist interested in the past and future evolution of the Earth as a habitable planet and how this knowledge informs the search for inhabited worlds beyond Earth. His current research focuses on the chemical evolution of the environment, especially changes in ocean oxygenation through time, and its consequences for life.David Bell (Associate Research Scientist, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry)

Audrey Bouvier (Assistant Professor, Department of Earth Sciences – Western University) Dr. Bouvier is interested in unraveling the chronology of planetary processes that took place during the first few million years of Solar System history such as the formation of the first condensates in the solar nebula, and the accretion and evolution of planetesimals. Her studies are based on short- (26Al-26Mg) and long-lived (207Pb-206Pb) chronologies of refractory inclusions and chondrules from primitive chondrites, and minerals from differentiated meteorites.

Maitrayee Bose (Assistant Research Professor, School of Molecular Sciences and School of Earth & Space Exploration) Dr. Bose's primary research interests include identification of presolar silicate and oxide grains to understand the conditions of formation in their stellar sources, chemical and isotopic studies of insoluble organic matter in primitive chondritic meteorites to understand the origin of isotopic anomalies observed in these materials, and the application of complementary micro-analytical approaches (SEM, AES, XANES, micro-XRF) to cosmochemical studies.

Gregory Brennecka (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory) Dr. Brennecka is currently working on understanding uranium  isotope  variation in Solar System material with a primary focus on how those variations affect early Solar System chronometers.  Another major interest is working to understand apparent nucleosynthetic anomalies in CAIs (calcium- and aluminum-rich inclusions) for a variety of elements like Ba, Nd, Sm, Mo, and Zr.

Peter Buseck (Regents Professor, School of Earth and Space Exploration) Dr. Buseck's research includes solid state geochemistry/mineralogy – the study of crystal defects in minerals at the atomic level using high-resolution transmission electron microscopy, geochemistry/cosmochemistry – the origin and character of carbonaceous chondrite meteorites and interplanetary (interstellar?) dust particles, and analytical and environmental geochemistry – the development and application of electron-beam instruments to the analysis of small particles, with emphasis on problems of atmospheric geochemistry and air pollution.

Julia Cartwright (Department of Geosciences, University of Alabama) Dr. Cartwright's research interests include the use of noble gases and halogens to study the formation of planetary regoliths and fluid processes in meteorites. She is also particularly interested in the investigation of achondrites (such as meteorites from Mars and the asteroid 4Vesta) to understand the formation and evolution of their parent bodies and the Solar System as a whole.

Phil Christensen (Regents Professor and Korrick Professor, School of Earth and Space Exploration) Dr. Christensen’s research interests include studying the geologic history and evolution of Earth and Mars. He led the team responsible for the Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) instrument on board the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft, and is leading the operation of the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS), which is on the Mars Odyssey spacecraft currently orbiting Mars. Dr. Christensen's Mars Space Flight Facility at ASU directly controls THEMIS. A third instrument, Mini-TES, is on board the two Mars Exploration Rovers, Opportunity and Spirit, that landed in January 2004 and are still operating.

Steve Desch (Associate Professor, School of Earth and Space Exploration) Dr. Desch studies star and planet formation by combining astrophysical models and numerical simulations with meteoritic data.

Richard Hervig (Professor, School of Earth & Space Exploration). Dr. Hervig uses the chemistry of Earth and extraterrestrial materials to determine their origin and evolution. These materials include samples from volcanic eruptions, igneous intrusions, low to medium temperature metamorphic rocks, sediments, and the solid run products from experiments. The primary tool used to explore these samples is the secondary ion mass spectrometer (SIMS, or ion microprobe). SIMS is a microanalytical technique with applications to geochemistry, cosmochemistry, and materials science.

Philip Janney (Senior Lecturer, Department of Geological Sciences – University of Cape Town) Dr. Janney uses stable and radiogenic isotope systems to understand the timing and processes involved in the early history of the Solar System, from the condensation of the first solids to the differentiation of planets.  A major emphasis is on the study of Mg and Si isotope fractionations in refractory inclusions in chondrites and laboratory-produced analogs to understand the role of evaporation in the history of these earliest-formed solids.

Prajkta Mane  (Post Doctoral Research Associate, University of Arizona Lunar & Planetary Laboratory) Dr. Mane studies the hydrogen isotope composition of martian meteorites to acquire insight into martian water reservoirs.  She also analyzes refractory inclusions found in primitive meteorites, considered to be the first solids to condense in our Solar System. The isotopic analysis of these inclusions can provide a window into Solar System formation, in particular the triggers and mechanisms of early Solar System processes.

Michelle Minitti (Faculty Research Associate, School of Earth & Space Exploration) Dr. Minitti utilizes tailor-made laboratory analogs and terrestrial analogs of Martian materials to pursue experimental and analytical investigations aimed at understanding the Martian meteorites and their context in Mars remote sensing datasets. She is particularly interested in the role of water in igneous and weathering processes. Dr. Minitti is also a Co-Investigator on the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera slated to investigate Mars as a part of the 2011 Mars Science Laboratory mission.

Melissa Morris (Assistant Professor, Department of Physics, SUNY Cortland) Dr. Morris's research focuses on star and planet formation, in particular the use of astrophysical modeling to determine conditions during the birth of planetary systems.  Her particular interests include hydrodynamic modeling (including radiative transfer) of protoplanetary disks and disk processes during planet formation, mainly through the application of chemical and mineralogical data of planetary materials.

Sandra Pizzarello (Research Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry) Dr. Pizzarello's research focuses on the study of organic components of carbonaceous chondrite meteorites, and has lead to the recognition, molecular identification, and isotopic characterization of their main extractable organic constituents. Her work involves the analyses of several meteorites of the three chondrites subgroups and the development of new analytical methods. The finding of L-enantiomeric excesses in some meteoritic amino acids has suggested a possible link between chemical evolution and planetary homochirality, leading to the current investigation of the possible source of their asymmetry as well as of model syntheses that would mimic their prebiotic catalytic activity and reactions.

Karen Rieck (Post Doctoral Scholar, Los Alamos National Laboratory) Dr. Rieck studies the ionized particles which comprise the solar wind.  The solar wind is used as a surrogate for the original solar nebula, and is used as a baseline from which to track changes as the Sun and the planets were formed.  Dr. Rieck is currently working with the Genesis Science Team to develop techniques for measuring the concentrations of elements in the solar wind, collected as part of NASA's Genesis Mission.

Stephen Romaniello   (Research Administrator, School of Earth & Space Exploration) Dr. Romaniello's research involves new approaches to global-scale sustainability challenges to managing atmospheric CO2, nutrients, and water in the Anthropocene.

Matthew Sanborn (Postdoctoral Scholar, Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences – University of California, Davis) Dr. Sanborn's current research involves measuring trace elements and isotopic compositions of a particular class of differentiated meteorites, the angrites, to try and understand the petrogenetic processes that occurred in the early Solar System.

Tom Sharp (Professor, School of Earth and Space Exploration; Director, LeRoy Eyring School of Solid State Science) Dr. Sharp's current research areas include the effect of water on high pressure phase transitions and deformation, high-pressure partitioning of highly siderophile elements and core formation, shock metamorphism and impacts on planetary bodies, chemical weathering on Mars and the structure and distribution of carbon in Earth's earliest microfossils.

Everett Shock (Professor, School of Earth and Space Exploration and Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry) Dr. Shock and members of his research group divide their time among building algorithms to estimate thermodynamic data; analyzing water, sediment, rock and biological samples; integrating analytical and thermodynamic data in models of geochemical and microbial processes; and testing ideas about the transport of water and solutes through the environment, the biogeochemical processes of the subsurface biosphere, and the potential for life on other planets.

Wendy Taylor (Faculty Research Associate, School of Earth and Space Exploration) (Research Associate, Department of Geological Sciences – University of Cape Town)

Curtis Williams (NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences – University of California, Davis) Dr. Williams applies various geochemical tools to the study of extraterrestrial materials. Currently, his focus is on 1) determining the volatile abundance and evolution in primary igneous minerals of the Martian meteorites by secondary ion mass spectrometry and 2) using in situ Ti-isotope measurements via laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy (ICPMS) to locate isotopically anomalous inclusions in chondrite meteorites (known as FUN-CAIs) for further geochemical studies.

Axel Wittmann (Assistant Research Scientist, LeRoy Eyring School for Solid State Science)

Mikhail Zolotov (Associate Research Professor, School of Earth and Space Exploration) Dr. Zolotov uses physical-chemical modeling to explore behavior of volatiles, mineralogical transformations and redox processes in aqueously processed parent bodies of chondrites, in the solar nebula, icy satellites, and in lithospheres of Mars and Venus.






















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Meteorite of the Month


November’s meteorite of the month is Benguerir, an (LL6) ordinary chondrite that fell in Morocco in 2004. According to the Meteoritical Bulletin (MB 89): A meteorite shower was witnessed to …

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