Understanding Solar System history - new magazine article by Center student

Center Ph.D. candidate Emilie Dunham recently wrote an article for Meteorite Times Magazine.  The piece, Understanding Solar System History: CAIs in Meteorites, details Dunham's research in the Center as well as findings she presented at the annual meeting of the Meteoritical Society last year.

A recipient of the prestigious NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF), Emilie has also been awarded a Graduate Excellence Award by ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Science, the Nininger Student Travel Award, and the Brian Mason Award.

Read Emilie Dunham's article in Meteorite Times Magazine here!


July's Meteorite of the Month is Albareto, an ordinary (L/LL4) chondrite that fell in northern Italy in July of 1766.

The meteorite's fall was widely witnessed, as it occurred in the middle of the day, and accounts describe the stone impacting with such force that the ground shook and a cow was knocked off its feet. The 2 kg stone was recovered from a crater approximately a meter deep.

The fall of the Albareto meteorite was very well documented by the Abbé Domenico Troili in a short book published later that year: About the Fall of a Stone from the Air, Explanation, Dedicated to Their Most Serene Highnesses of Modena.

Photo:  Mossimo Barbieri. Il frammento della Meteorite di Albareto caduta del luglio 1786 conservato presso il Museo del Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra di Modena Gemma 1786.

In their 2002 paper Domenico Troili (1766): "The true cause of the fall of a stone in Albareto is a subterranean explosion that hurled the stone skyward", Ursula Marvin and Mario Cosmo discuss the Albareto meteorite fall, as well as the place of Troili's publication in the history of meteoritics:

In mid-July, 1766, a stone fell at Villa Albareto near Modena in northern Italy. A sudden explosion like a cannon shot follwed by fierce whistling sounds frightened people over a wide area.  Some saw a fiery body falling from the sky; others said it was dark and smoky.  The ground shook when the stone plunged into the soil making a hole nearly a meter deep.  The Abbé Domenico Troili collected eyewitness reports, examined the stone, and reported the presence of marchesita, and old name for pyrite.  A century later, this mineral, which proved to be iron sulfide (FeS), was named "troilite" in his honor.  Troili's description is unquestionaby that of a meteorite fall, and therefore some scientists have argued that it is Troili, rather than Ernst F. F. Chladni, to whom we should give credit as the first person to record the fall of a stone from space.  However, Troili, himself, had no such idea; he wrote that a subterranean explosion had hurled the stone high into the sky from a vent in the Earth.

Meteorite Gallery part of 2018 Blue Star Museum program

The Center's Meteorite Gallery joins more than 2,000 museums across America to offer free admission to military personnel and their families this summer, in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, and the Department of Defense.
Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 2,000 museums across America to offer free admission to the nation’s active duty military personnel and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The program provides families an opportunity to enjoy the nation's cultural heritage and learn more about their community, especially after a military move. A list of participating museums is available at arts.gov/bluestarmuseums.
“Visiting a museum is a great way to get to know a community—whether it’s in your hometown or a stop on a road trip,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “We appreciate the enthusiasm of museums all across the country who open their doors for military and their families to spend time together and have new arts experiences.”
This year’s Blue Star Museums represent not just fine arts museums, but also science museums, history museums, nature centers, and dozens of children’s museums. Museums are welcome to sign up for Blue Star Museums throughout the summer by emailing bluestarmuseums@arts.gov.
“As many military families spend the summer months moving from one duty station to another, or reconnecting with a parent who has returned from deployment, Blue Star Museums helps service members and their families create memories,” said Blue Star Families Chief Executive Officer Kathy Roth-Douquet. “Blue Star Families has great appreciation for the generosity of the museums across the country who roll out the red carpet for the families who serve alongside their service members. We are thrilled with the continued growth of the program and the unparalleled opportunities it offers.”


June’s Meteorite of the Month is Utrecht, an (L6) ordinary chondrite that fell June 2nd, 1843, in the Netherlands.

The meteorite’s spectacular fall was described by Dr. E.H. Baumhauer (Annalen der Physik 142(12):465-506).  Three to four explosions, compared to loud canon fire, were heard within a 25km radius of the city of Utrecht, followed by a whistling that lasted two to three minutes.  While most witnesses were startled by the noise, some initially thought the sound was actually produced by a distant musical performance, or the shouting of children.  One of the two stones was seen to fall by a farmer in his field, and almost 10 kg of material were ultimately recovered.Utrecht meteorite

The Utrecht meteorite is one of only five Dutch meteorites, all of which have been witnessed falls.

Photo: ASU/CMS.

Center student receives Dwornik Award

We are pleased to announce that Center Ph.D. Candidate Daniel Dunlap has been awarded the Dwornik Award!

The award was endowed in 1991 by Dr. Stephen E. Dwornik, who wished to encourage U.S. students to become involved with NASA and planetary science. The Dwornik Award recognizes outstanding student presentations (in both oral and poster categories) at the annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC). The awards are managed and judged by the Planetary Geology Division of the Geological Society of America.

Congratulations, Daniel!

Daniel DunlapDaniel Dunlap with his poster, "Pb-Pb Age of the Ungrouped Achondrite Northwest Africa 11119: Timing of Extraterrestrial Silica-rich Volcanism" at the 49th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (March 2018, Houston TX). Photo: ASU/CMS.

Center student receives NASA award

We are pleased to announce that Center Ph.D. Candidate Soumya Ray has been awarded the highly competitive and prestigious NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF)!

Soumya RaySoumya's proposal, "A combined investigation of iron and silicon isotopes in meteorites: Implications for planetary accretion and differentiation", was one of only 24 selected from over 220 applications for this fellowship in the Planetary Science Research Program.

The NESSF program awards students from accredited U.S. universities pursuing Master of Science or doctoral degrees in Earth and space sciences, or related disciplines. The purpose of the NESSF is to ensure continued training of a highly qualified workforce in disciplines needed to achieve NASA's scientific goals.

Congratulations, Soumya!


2018 Graduation Highlights: Alexandra Perez

Given her childhood fascination with the movie Armageddon, about a gigantic asteroid on a collision course with Earth, it’s not surprising that School of Earth and Space Exploration recent grad, Alexandra Perez, focused her studies here at ASU on meteorites. 

Originally from Jacksonville, Florida, Perez was thrilled to learn in college that she could actually study meteorites. “When I held my first meteorite while working on my senior thesis, I instantly knew this is what I wanted to study.”

A. PerezSince beginning her master’s degree at ASU in geological sciences, Perez has conducted over 130 experiments to determine how chondrules (a mineral grain present in some stony meteorites) form. Research on these primitive specimens may help us better understand the evolution of the early solar system.

Given her interest in meteorites, It’s not surprising that Perez’ favorite spot on campus was the second floor of the Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building, where the Center for Meteorite Studies is located. ASU has the largest collection of meteorites of any university (over 40,000 specimens) and a variety of meteorites are on display here, both behind glass, as well as some that you can touch. 

When asked the best piece of advice she’d give to those starting college, Perez recommends students push themselves beyond their limits and comfort zones. “This is the only way you can find what you are capable of and you will surprise yourself along the way,” she says.

And she practices what she preaches. Alexandra has been described by her advisors and instructors as both positive and persistent. She has also overcome tremendous challenges, including surviving a brain tumor prior to starting her degree. 

Her plans after graduation include a trip to New Zealand and Australia, as well as spending time with family. After a break, she plans on pursuing a Ph.D. and continuing to raise awareness of brain tumors and supporting the search for a cure.

Karin Valentine
Media Relations and Marketing
School of Earth and Space Exploration






May's Meteorite of the Month is Sterlitamak, a IIIAB iron meteorite that fell late on the night of May 17, 1990, in Russia.

SterlitamakPhoto: ASU/CMS/Garvie.
Many witnesses in South Bashkiria saw a very bright fireball (up to -5 magnitude) moving from south to north at a ~45 degree angle to the horizon. Witnesses located ~2 km from the crater observed the fireball glowing right up to the time of impact, after which several explosions were heard. The crater was found on May 19.
To date, 325 kg of material have been recovered from the crater, the largest piece from a depth of 12 m (39.4 ft).

 Sterlitamak crater

Photo: Archival.

Meteorites vs dinosaurs

Center students and scientists recently took touchable meteorites to the closing weekend of the Phoenix Zoo's Dinosaurs in the Desert exhibit, and DÍa del Niño event.

How do you take on a T-Rex in the wild?  With a well aimed Canyon Diablo iron meteorite, of course! 

Ph.D. candidate Zack Torrano demonstrates the proper stance to take, with outward turned throwing hand, and off-hand extended for balance. This minimizes the chances of slipping and falling while attempting to attack a dinosaur, which can be a fatal mistake.

  • Ph.D. student Gabriel Franco shares his enthusiasm for space rocks with aspiring young scientists.