How did stony meteorites form?

Center Assistant Research Scientist Dr. Jemma Davidson was recently featured in Astronomy magazine.

In response to a question submitted to the magazine's Ask Astro segment, Davidson provided insight into the of the formation of stony meteorites in the early Solar System.

Read the article, here!

Learn more about Dr. Davidson's current research, here!

Photo: Fusion-crusted Allende meteorite individuals. Allende is a CV3 carbonaceous chondrite that fell in 1969. Image ⓒ ASU/CMS.

Apply for the Nininger Meteorite Award

The Center for Meteorite Studies at Arizona State University is pleased to announce the application opportunity for the 2019-2020 Nininger Meteorite Award for undergraduate and graduate students pursuing research in meteoritical sciences!

The Nininger Meteorite Award recognizes outstanding student achievement in the meteoritical sciences as embodied by an original research paper; the recipient receives $2,000 and an engraved plaque commemorating the honor.

Previous Nininger Award Recipients
Previous Nininger Meteorite Award recipients. Clockwise from top right: Jonathan Lewis (2018), Emily Worsham (2017), François Tissot (2016), Roger Fu (2015).

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. Papers must cover original research conducted by the student and must have been written, submitted, or published between January 1, 2019 and December 31, 2020.

The Nininger Meteorite Award application deadline is April 2, 2021.  Applicants must be the first, but not sole, author of the paper and must have enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at an educational institution in the United States at the time the paper was written, submitted, or published. Note that papers do not need to be published in order to qualify for submission.

For more information, including application form, click here!

See a list of previous recipients, here!

 

 

 

Fossil meteorites

Devin SchraderCenter Interim Director Dr. Devin Schrader is featured in an ASU Now story recently published by Knowledge Enterprise writer Mikala Kass.

The story was published in celebration of Fossil Day and includes a great feature on the Center for Meteorite Studies and an explanation of fossil meteorites.

“[They give] a history of what’s been hitting the Earth over a longer time scale than what we can record now as humans. The types of meteorites falling to Earth today are falling in different abundances than what we think was falling in the past,” Schrader said.

Read the full story, here!

Learn about Dr. Schrader's current research, here!

Karin Valentine
Media Relations & Marketing Manager
ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration

Meteorite Gallery featured in Phoenix New Times Best of 2020

The ASU Center for Meteorite Studies Gallery recently received the distinction of Best Place to See Meteorites, bestowed by the Phoenix New Times, and featured in their Best of Phoenix 2020 publication.
 
We can't help but agree.

ASU Meteorite Gallery

Chitado

October's Meteorite of the Month is Chitado, an ordinary (L6) chondrite that fell in the province of Cunene, southwest Angola.

According to the Meteoritical Bulletin (MB 53):

On October 20, 1966, a shower of meteorites fell near Chitado, within an area of approximately 6 km2. Several stones weighing several hundred grams each and a few of some kilograms were collected and are preserved in the museum of the Servicos de Geologia e Minas in Luanda.

While the total recovered mass of this meteorite is unknown, the Center for Meteorite Studies collection holds 18g of Chitado.

Initially classified as an H6 chondrite, Chitado was reclassified, based on magnetic susceptibility (Rochette et al, 2003), as an L6 chondrite in 2003.

Photo: ASU/CMS. This piece of the Chitado meteorite measures approximately 2 inches at its widest point.

Chitado meteorite

 

Fall and classification of the Aguas Zarcas meteorite

Laurence Garvie Aguas Zarcas
Center Meteorite Curator Laurence Garvie holds a piece of the Aguas Zarcas meteorite that hit a dog house in Costa Rica. Photo: ASU/CMS/E. Garvie.
Center for Meteorite Studies Meteorite Curator Laurence Garvie is featured in a new article published in the journal Science on the meteorite Aguas Zarcas.

Aguas Zarcas is a carbonaceous (CM2) meteorite that fell in Costa Rica April 23, 2019. One 280 g (approx 10 oz) piece struck a dog house, and another 1152 g (approx 2.5 lb) piece left a hole the size of a grapefruit in the roof of a nearby house.

From the Meteoritical Bulletin (MB108):

At 21:07 local time on 23 April 2019, a meteorite fall was reported in Aguas Zarcas, San Carlos county, Alajuela province, Costa Rica. The fireball traveled WNW to ESE and was caught on cameras of the National Seismological Network (RSN) at the summit of Poás and Turrialba volcanoes, and from the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (OVSICORI). Sightings were reported from Quepos (Central Pacific) in the south and north to La Palmera in San Carlos.

Click here to see additional photos and learn more about this fascinating new meteorite, including its fall and recovery in Costa Rica, and its classification at ASU!

Aguas Zarcas meteorite
Fusion-crusted individual piece of Aguas Zarcas. Top right of stone shows dirt from its impact with the Earth. Photo: ASU/CMS/L. Garvie.

 

Plantersville

September's Meteorite of the Month is Plantersville, an ordinary (H6) chondrite that fell in Texas the afternoon of September 4, 1930.

In his 1937 American Mineralogist research article, Professor John Lonsdale described the circumstances of the meteorite fall, as recounted to him by witnesses:

This locality is forested and only the fact that six men … were cutting timber within a few hundred yards of the point of fall permitted the finding and recovery of the meteorite.

Their first impression of an unusual occurrence was that of hearing a distant explosive rumbling at a high angle in the sky. They estimated that this lasted about two minutes. The rumbling noise was succeeded by a noise like an airplane which lasted several minutes and which seemed to come from the southwest and pass the observers before stopping. As this noise stopped, some of the men heard a noise like that of a "chunk falling from a tree." At this time the observers thought an airplane had fallen nearby and they moved in the direction from which they heard the last sound.

The witnesses observed freshly broken branches, and discovered the meteorite partially embedded in "compact hard, dry, clay soil" within a few minutes of its fall.

Plantersville meteorite
This slice of the Plantersville meteorite measures approximately one inch at its longest point. Photo: ASU/CMS/D. Schrader.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The uncut Plantersville meteorite weighed in at 2.09 kg, which is just over 4.5 lb.

Plantersville
Rear view of the meteorite showing the thicker and coarser crust. Photo from Lonsdale, 1937.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lonsdale, J.T. (1937) The Plantersville Meteorite, Grimes County, Texas. American Mineralogist 22(8): 877-888.

Fragments of asteroids may have jumped the gap in the early solar system

This article originally appeared in ASU Now, and is reposted here with additional comments from Dr. J. Davidson.

Using some cosmic detective work, a team of researchers has found evidence that tiny pieces of asteroids from the inner solar system may have crossed a gap to the outer solar system, a feat once thought to be unlikely. 

About 1 million years after the start of the solar system, it is thought that while Jupiter’s core formed, it created a gap in the protoplanetary disk (the disk of dense gas and dust surrounding the sun). Called the “Jupiter Gap,” this divide severely limited material from getting across it and is thought to have created two distinct reservoirs in the disk.

protoplanetary disk
Atacama Large Millimeter Array image of the protoplanetary disk around HL Tauri. The dark rings are gaps in the dust and gas-rich protoplanetary disk, likely due to the formation of planets. These gaps may be similar to the disk gap thought to be formed by the formation of Jupiter in our protoplanetary disk. Credit: ESO/ALMA
Against the odds, however, a team of researchers including Associate Research Professor  Dr. Devin L. Schrader and Research Scientist  Dr. Jemma Davidson of Arizona State University’s Center for Meteorite Studies have found evidence in meteorites that tiny fragments of asteroids from the inner solar system crossed the Jupiter Gap into the outer solar system. The results of their study have been recently published in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta.

“This research provides new information about the dynamics of the early solar system,” lead author Schrader said. “Our research shows that these two reservoirs were not completely isolated from one another.”

The research team, which also includes scientists from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Washington University in St. Louis, and Harvard University, were inspired to conduct this study because of samples brought back from NASA’s comet sample return mission, Stardust.

These samples hinted that comets could contain material that migrated from the inner solar system to the outer reaches where comets formed and suggested that the migration of material may have been more widespread in the early solar system than previously thought.

“The Stardust mission was like peeking through the blinds at the earliest solar system,” said co-author Dr. Timothy McCoy, chair and curator of meteorites at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. “We knew that meteorites in our collections could open the window so that we could see the whole view.”

With that in mind, they set out to test this hypothesis using samples of meteorites, specifically chondrites, that were present in the early solar system.

And thanks to the large collection of meteorites from the Center for Meteorite Studies, the Smithsonian Institution and NASA, they had access to samples of chondrites that were believed to have formed in the inner solar system as well as those believed to have been formed in the outer solar system.

  • Murchison meteorite
    Associate Research Professor Devin Schrader holds a piece of the Murchison meteorite from the ASU Center for Meteorite Studies collection. A piece of the Murchison meteorite was found to contain evidence that inner solar system material migrated to the outer solar system. Photo credit: Devin Schrader/ASU

Using electron probe microanalyzers (to obtain high resolution images of the samples and major and minor element data of individual minerals) and a secondary ion mass spectrometer (used to analyze the isotopic composition of samples), the team was able to provide direct evidence for a complex mixing of materials between the inner and outer solar system.

“By looking at the kinds of samples we have in the Center for Meteorite Studies collection, we were able to investigate how material moved around in the protoplanetary disk four and a half billion years ago,” co-author Davidson said. "That's pretty exciting cosmic detective work."

In future studies, the team hopes to learn more from asteroid sample return missions like the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Hayabusa2 mission to the asteroid Ryugu, which is scheduled to return samples to Earth later this year and NASA’s OSIRIS-REx to the asteroid Bennu, which is expected to return samples to Earth in 2023.    

Karin Valentine
Media Relations & Marketing Manager
ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration

Apply for the Nininger Meteorite Award

The Center for Meteorite Studies at Arizona State University is pleased to announce the application opportunity for the 2019-2020 Nininger Meteorite Award for undergraduate and graduate students pursuing research in meteoritical sciences!

The Nininger Meteorite Award recognizes outstanding student achievement in the meteoritical sciences as embodied by an original research paper; the recipient receives $2,000 and an engraved plaque commemorating the honor.

Previous Nininger Award Recipients
Previous Nininger Meteorite Award recipients. Clockwise from top right: Jonathan Lewis (2018), Emily Worsham (2017), François Tissot (2016), Roger Fu (2015).

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. Papers must cover original research conducted by the student and must have been written, submitted, or published between January 1, 2019 and December 31, 2020.

The Nininger Meteorite Award application deadline is April 2, 2021.  Applicants must be the first, but not sole, author of the paper and must have enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at an educational institution in the United States at the time the paper was written, submitted, or published. Note that papers do not need to be published in order to qualify for submission.

For more information, including application form, click here!

See a list of previous recipients, here!