CMS News

Where are we now? Prajkta Mane

Catch up with Center alumni through this periodic feature!

Dr. Prajkta Mane
Dr. Prajkta Mane. Photo: LPI/JSC.

Dr. Prajkta Mane received her doctoral degree in 2016, from the ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration. Her dissertation research in the Center (Isotopic Investigations of Meteoritic Materials: From Earliest-Formed Solids to Planetary Bodies) focused on the beginning of our Solar System, including events such as the formation of the first solids as well as the accretion and differentiation of planetary bodies, as recorded in meteoritic material

She is presently a Visiting Scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute (USRA) / NASA Johnson Space Center, where her current research focuses on the study of chemical, microstructural, and isotopic characteristics of meteorites. She analyzes Calcium-Aluminum-rich Inclusions (CAIs) to decipher the chronology of early Solar System events, observes the recorded nucleosynthetic anomalies in them, and studies their microstructural characteristics to determine the mechanisms of CAI formation. She also analyzes martian meteorites for their hydrogen isotopic composition to understand the evolution of martian water reservoirs.

Dr. Mane has a strong interest in developing new laboratory techniques to study cosmochemistry and isotope geochemistry of meteorites and samples returned from various planetary missions in order to significantly advance knowledge of the building blocks of the Solar System.

Read about Dr. Mane’s PhD research in the Center, here!

ASU Center for Meteorite Studies named in honor of acclaimed researcher Peter Buseck

November 17, 2021

Regents Professor Peter Buseck has an enduring and productive relationship with Arizona State University’s Center for Meteorite Studies.

Founded in 1961, the center is one of ASU’s first established research institutes and houses one of the world's largest university-based meteorite collections. Over the past 60 years, meteorites from the collection have been used in scientifically important research, from probing the history of the solar system and its evolution, to the existence of extraterrestrial organic compounds and water, to the origins of life.

Regents Professor Peter Buseck.
Regents Professor Peter Buseck.
Recently, the Center for Meteorite Studies was named in Buseck's honor, now known as the Buseck Center for Meteorite Studies

“Meteorites are important because they provide insight into the surfaces and interiors of other planets, processes that went on when the solar system was forming, and which organic compounds — such as certain amino acids — were transported by meteorites from space to Earth,” said Buseck.

Buseck, with faculty appointments in ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration and the School of Molecular Sciences, has a long connection with meteoritics. His first paper on meteorites in the journal Science was published in 1968. 

Throughout his nearly six-decade career at ASU, he and his students and postdocs have been recognized for their pioneering work in the nanomineralogy of meteorites and interplanetary dust particles. Buseck, with postdoc Kazu Tomeoka, performed the first high-resolution transmission electron microscopy analysis of meteorites. One class of meteorites Buseck has studied, carbonaceous chondrites, are important because of their connection to organic compounds, life’s origins and the scientific understanding of the solar system.

“Carbonaceous chondrites in our collection have provided decades of insights into the evolution of asteroids in the early solar system,” said Center for Meteorite Studies interim Director Devin Schrader. “These studies are invaluable for understanding samples returned from asteroids by recent space missions. In the past year, Martian meteorites from the collection were used to constrain the abundance and isotopic composition of water in Mars’ crust. This furthers our understanding of Mars, a planet that could have potentially supported life, and provides invaluable data for potential in situ resource utilization for future crewed exploration missions.”

Buseck and his group have published an impressive 16 papers in the high-prestige journals Science and Nature on meteorites and interplanetary dust particles — 40 papers in all, on these and other topics. Buseck recently received the Roebling Medal from the Mineralogical Society of America (2019) and the David Sinclair Award from the American Association of Aerosol Research (2021), these being the highest awards given by the organizations. In 2012, Buseck had a meteorite mineral, buseckite, named after him for his many contributions to meteorite research and mineralogy.

“I have been privileged to study these scientifically important messengers throughout my career,” Buseck said, “and to share that journey of investigation with many talented PhD students and postdocs who now have flourishing careers. Examples include Tom Sharp, who is a valued colleague here at ASU; Kazu Tomeoka at Kobe University; Lindsay Keller at NASA; Donald Eisenhour, a corporate executive; Laurence Garvie, who is at ASU; and Tom Zega, among many others."

Tom Zega, a professor at the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, earned his PhD under Buseck’s guidance.

“Peter pioneered the application of transmission electron microscopy to the study of minerals, whether they originated from land, the sky or from space,” Zega said. “Some of his earliest work on meteorites was measurement of phosphorous chemistry in iron meteorites. That effort expanded into work on many other types of meteorites, including primitive carbonaceous chondrites. Peter’s group did some of the groundbreaking characterization work on the fine-grained matrix components of different classes of carbonaceous chondrites, including the discovery by postdoc Kazushige Tomeoka that the most compositionally primitive chondrites, with compositions most similar to the sun, are entirely hydrated. This was a key discovery in understanding the role water played on asteroids in the early solar system and is now extremely relevant to the samples being measured from JAXA's Hayabusa2 mission, and we expect will be important for the analysis of samples brought back by NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission.

“I think that one of the things I valued most about Peter,” Zega continued, “was that he gave me (and other group members) the freedom to work on problems that interested us and find our own way. Yes, there were broad research themes in cosmochemistry, mineral physics and atmospheric chemistry, and Peter would advise and give suggestions, but he did not constantly look over our shoulder demanding results. I think Peter trusted that if he gave talented students and postdocs that freedom, good science would eventually result from it, as it repeatedly did with people in his research group. I always appreciated that, and I try to model that approach with my own students and postdocs.”

Buseck has not only had an esteemed career of over 58 years at ASU, but also has philanthropically supported areas across the institution for the past three decades. His generosity has made a positive impact on the School of Earth and Space Exploration, School of Molecular Sciences, Center for Meteorite Studies, Arizona PBS, President’s Club, Jewish Studies, Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, and through an endowment in Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, the Alice and Peter Buseck Scholarship for Piano Students, which honors his late wife. Professor Buseck’s generosity helps to advance areas he is passionate about and will continue to do so in perpetuity.

“Over the last few decades, the center has established its reputation for cutting-edge research on meteorites and returned samples from spacecraft missions,” said School of Earth and Space Exploration Director Meenakshi Wadhwa. “Naming it the Buseck Center for Meteorite Studies not only honors Professor Buseck’s significant contributions and legacy in cosmochemistry research, but will also raise the profile and impact of this center and its research in the broader scientific community.”

ASU Provost and Executive Vice President Nancy Gonzales said, “Peter and the Center for Meteorite Studies both contribute unswervingly to ASU’s reputation as a leading research institution. Peter’s research, along with the research of others who have utilized the center’s collection, have greatly contributed to our understanding of the solar system and our place within it.”

Buseck's research will have lasting significance.

“Often when we do science," Zega observed, "we don’t know what its impact will be, whether near- or long-term. In Peter’s case, he and his group have made transformative contributions across multiple fields of science, spanning six decades, that will last well into the future.”

That future will continue through research at the Buseck Center for Meteorite Studies. The mission of the center is to create and share new knowledge in the field of meteoritics and related disciplines. The scientists and staff at the center do this through cutting-edge research, curation and distribution of the center’s meteorite collection, dissemination of the latest scientific results and education at local, national and global scales.

“This year marks the 60th anniversary of the center,” said Wadhwa, “and there have been many significant research contributions that have been made by the center’s researchers and with meteorites from its collection over this time.”

Tijana Rajh, director of the School of Molecular Sciences, added, “Studies encompassing the role of water and organic content in meteorites performed at the Center for Meteorite Studies transformed how we think about the early days of the solar system and provided new molecular approaches to studying the returned samples from spacecraft missions.”

The center was founded in 1961 soon after ASU acquired a significant portion of the meteorite collection of Harvey H. Nininger, a famous meteorite hunter and self-taught meteoriticist. Professor Carleton Moore served as the founding director from 1961 until his retirement in 2003. Laurie Leshin, an ASU alumna who was a professor in the then Department of Geological Sciences, served as the center's director from 2003 till 2005 (she is currently president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute). Michelle Minitti served as interim director for a brief period (2005–06) before Wadhwa was named center director and professor in the newly established School of Earth and Space Exploration in 2006. Wadhwa served in this role in the center until 2019, when she was appointed director of the School of Earth and Space Exploration. Since then, Schrader has served as interim director.

At the present time, the center’s mission is advanced by a talented and experienced team:

  • Interim Director and Associate Research Professor Devin Schrader utilizes state-of-the-art multi-technique approaches to analyze samples from the earlies stages of our solar system’s history. His research primarily focuses on carbonaceous chondrites, ordinary chondrites and Hayabusa-returned particles from asteroid Itokawa, with the aim of furthering our understanding of the formation and alteration processes of small bodies in the early solar system. He is also a science team member for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample-return mission.
  • Collection Curator and Research Professor Laurence Garvie deciphers early solar system processes through the use of innovative, high-spatial-resolution electron microscopic and spectroscopic studies of meteorites. His studies primarily focus on carbonaceous chondrites, which provide a unique record of the physical and chemical processes that shaped our solar system. He was first a postdoctoral and then senior researcher in Buseck’s group from 1994 to 2007.
  • Assistant Research Professor Amy Jurewicz focuses her research on the recovery and analysis of the NASA GENESIS solar-wind collector materials. Before GENESIS, Jurewicz's research included work on a number of NASA missions, as well as the fabrication of meteorite analogs for the purpose of determining how one meteorite could be formed from another through natural, early solar system processes.
  • Assistant Research Scientist Jemma Davidson is an isotope geochemist and petrologist who specializes in the study of primitive astromaterials. She applies her expertise in petrology and isotope chemistry to samples from small bodies, such as carbonaceous chondrites, to understand early solar system processes and larger bodies, such as Mars and the moon, to understand the evolution of water in our solar system. She also studies ordinary chondrites, interplanetary dust particles and particles from asteroid Itokawa.
  • Research Professional Rebekah Hines serves a multidisciplinary role in the center, including the development and implementation of museum exhibits and loanable education modules, construction of relational collection databases, designing state-of-the-art natural history collection housing, content development for education and outreach programming, and website administration. In addition, she oversees clean-room operations and trains students in the School of Earth and Space Exploration's Isotope Cosmochemistry and Geochronology Laboratory that is directed by Wadhwa.
  • Program Coordinator Rebecca Davis, a decades-long Sun Devil, supports the center with funding, sponsored projects and human resource management. She is also an active and enthusiastic participant in the center's education and outreach activities.

The next opportunity to meet the Buseck Center for Meteorite Studies team (and bring in your meteorite for analysis) is at the ASU Tempe campus Open Door event on Feb. 26, 2022. The Buseck Center for Meteorite Studies team will have a booth on the second floor of ISTB4 and will be on hand to assist with meteorite identification and to answer questions from science enthusiasts of all ages.

Written by James Klemaszewski, science writer for the School of Molecular Sciences, and Karin Valentine, media relations and marketing manager at the School of Earth and Space Exploration. This article originally appeared on ASU Now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating ASU history: Carleton Moore, meteorites and moon rocks

Looking back at history-making chemistry that's out of this world

October 6, 2021

It was 60 years ago, in 1961, and the space race was on. Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space, followed weeks later by American astronaut Alan Shepard. President John F. Kennedy challenged the nation to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade.

Arizona State University’s opportunity to become part of the nation’s space program began when it purchased the largest personal meteorite collection at the time from Harvey Nininger. Nininger’s meteorite collection, consisting of samples from nearly 600 localities, was housed and studied at ASU’s newly formed Center for Meteorite Studies, one of the university’s first research institutes.

To direct the center, ASU courted a recent PhD graduate from the California Institute of Technology, Carleton Moore. Moore, at the time, was teaching at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. On behalf of ASU, Herbert G. Fales flew to Connecticut to recruit Moore.

CB Moore
Emeritus Regents Professor Carleton Moore, the founding director of the Center for Meteorite Studies at ASU. Photo courtesy of J. Wardarski/The State Press
Moore recalled, “I was interested in the position, but I wanted to come to Arizona to see the university before accepting. At the time, it was unheard of for prospective faculty to want to come and visit the school, so I don’t think they really knew what to do with me. They gave me a nice tour, and then George Bateman, chair of the division of physical sciences, took me to dinner at the local bowling alley.”

The Center for Meteorite Studies was originally located in the Department of Chemistry (today the School of Molecular Sciences). One of Moore’s first tasks as director was to organize a symposium on meteorite research to celebrate the inauguration of ASU’s new president, G. Homer Durham.

“Durham was a wonderful guy,” Moore said. “He saw that ASU had to grow, so he was very supportive of our research.”

Research at the Center for Meteorite Studies grew throughout the 1960s, as did Moore’s skill and reputation. Prior to the first moon landing in 1969, Moore was accepted by NASA to chemically analyze lunar samples brought back to Earth by the astronauts. A little over 50 years ago, on the evening of Oct. 7, 1969, history was made at ASU in the C-wing of the physical sciences building when Moore, together with colleague Charles Lewis and graduate student Robert Kelly, obtained the first measurements of carbon in a lunar sample.

Click here to continue reading at ASU News!

James Klemaszewski
Science writer, School of Molecular Sciences

 

 

Classification of the Kolang Meteorite

The afternoon of August 1, 2020, residents of Sumatra's Central Tapanuli Regency heard loud booming sounds that shook their houses. A single stone weighing over 2 kg (~4.5 lb) went through the roof of a house in the town of Kolang, embedding itself in the soil beside the house. A second stone fell in a rice paddy approximately 2 km away, and two more stones (both ~100 g) were found approximately 8 km away.

J Hutagalung with Kolang meteorite
Finder Josua Hutagalung holds a piece of the Kolang meteorite that fell through his metal roof. Image credit: Josua Hutagalung.
The classification of this new meteorite was performed at the ASU Center for Meteorite Studies by Curator Laurence Garvie, and published in the Meteoritical Bulletin.

MB 109: The interiors of the stones are dark gray to black and sparsely decorated with light-colored speckles, and host common breccia fragments that protrude from the fracture surfaces. One fragment shows a large (3 mm) CAI with a pinkish hue. Three breccia types are visible: hard with conchoidal fracture and lacking or poor in chondrules; chondrule rich; and, greenish gray. Powder XRD shows considerable mineralogical diversity between different areas of matrix and clasts. Representative pieces from the bulk matrix are dominated by serpentine, with medium- to low-intensity reflections for regularly interstratified tochilinite/cronstedtite, tochilinite, calcite, pyrrhotite, and pentlandite. Some areas contain two distinct serpentines with basal spacings of 7.297 and 7.213 Å. BSE images from an ~1.5 × 2 cm fragment from the visually average lithology shows intense brecciation at all magnification scales, but is best described by two end-member petrographies. A) Intensely comminuted consisting of breccia fragments, sparse silicate fragments, and rare recognizable chondrules in a fine-grained matrix that is locally PCP rich. The chondrules and silicate fragments show a range of alteration to hydrous phases and many lack anhydrous silicates. B) Chondrule-rich breccia clast with a matrix dominated by PCP-rich objects. Chondrule mean diameter=125 μm (n=41, range 34 to 291 μm), not including a large 1.5 × 1 mm BO chondrule. Particularly noticeable in hand specimen are sparsely distributed greenish-gray breccia clasts (to 2 cm). Powder XRD shows the clast to be dominated by two serpentines, pyrrhotite, pentlandite, and calcite, and a medium-intensity basal reflection from well-crystallized smectite. Polished mount of this clast shows abundant chondrule pseudomorphs and coarse-grained sulfides.

The main mass is blocky with a flat face and well-developed regmaglypts, and reveals a highly brecciated interior. Fragments crushed with water emit a delicate, earthy smell, though not as persistent or complex as that from Aguas Zarcas or Murchison.

"Kolang is one of the weirdest stones we have", says Garvie. "Part of the difficulty working on it is that it's super brecciated; two pieces can be completely different."

The stone's petrography, oxygen isotope ratios, and olivine compositional range fall within the CM (Mighei group chondrites):

All the oxygen isotopes, except the metal- and chondrule-rich clast, fall within the CM field. The dominant lithology contains areas with chondrules completely replaced by hydrous silicates and intimately associated and mixed with chondrules and olivine fragments partially replaced by hydrous phases (CM1/2), to areas more typical of CM2 meteorites. The bulk mineralogy is largely consistent with CM1 to 2 meteorites

Lath shaped sulfides in a CM1 clast from the CM1/2 Kolang (sample ASU2147_C3c). po = pyrrhotite (Schrader et al, 2021).

A total of four stones weighing ~ 2550 g (5.6 lb) were recovered; the 2100 g main mass, the ~250 g  stone from the rice paddy, a ~100 g (in two pieces), and a ~100 g complete stone (the latter 2 masses were inferred from photos).

Click here to read about Center for Meteorite Studies research on the Kolang meteorite!

Click here to read BBC news coverage of the Kolang meteorite fall, including an interview with Curator Laurence Garvie!

CMS60: The oldest sedimentary rock in the Solar System is a meteorite

In 2017, Center Meteorite Curator Dr. Laurence Garvie published a ground-breaking paper in the journal Icarus. Co-authored with former Center Assistant Director and astrophysicist Dr. Melissa Morris and School of Earth and Space Exploration Professor (now Emeritus) and sedimentologist Dr. Paul Knauth, the paper (Sedimentary laminations in the Isheyevo (CH/CBb) carbonaceous chondrite formed by gentle impact-plume sweep-up) was a true interdisciplinary effort.

"I still remember being blown away by the first photo I saw online – It was astonishing. What was this sedimentary material? I had never seen anything like that before in a meteorite. It looked like a well- sorted sediment.”

Isheyevo meteoriteIsheyevo was the first meteorite to show prominent macroscopic sedimentary laminations and, so far, remains the only meteorite that provides evidence of gentle layer-by-layer accretion in the early Solar System. This extends the terrestrial sedimentary source-to-sink paradigm to a near vacuum environment where neither fluvial nor aeolian processes operate.

“Isheyevo is the Solar System’s oldest sedimentary rock, having formed just a few million years after the formation of the oldest objects in our Solar System, the CAIs, and is way older than the oldest Earth rock."

Morris' astrophysical modeling was key to bringing the formational history to light and to understanding the physics under which this rock could have formed, and Knauth's insights into terrestrial sedimentary formation scenarios added crucial context to how this rock had formed billions of years ago on an extraterrestrial body.

"I am often asked “what is your favorite meteorite?” Being the curator, I have thousands to choose from, but I always point to Isheyevo.”

Read more about Isheyevo’s formational history:

Morris, M.A., Garvie, L.A.J . and Knauth, L.P. (2015) New insights into the Solar System’s transition disk phase provided by the metal-rich carbonaceous chondrite Isheyevo. Astrophysical Journal Letters 801(2), L22.

Garvie, L.A.J., Knauth, L.P., and Morris, M.A. (2017) Sedimentary laminations in the Isheyevo (CH/CBb) carbonaceous chondrite formed by gentle impact-plume sweep-up. Icarus. 292:36-47.

 

 

Now accepting applications for Nininger Meteorite Award

Nininger Awardee Clara Maurel
Clara Maurel, recipient of the 2020 Nininger Meteorite Award.
The Center for Meteorite Studies at Arizona State University is pleased to announce the application opportunity for the 2021-22 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.  Papers must cover original research conducted by the student and must have been written, submitted, or published between January 1, 2021 and December 31, 2022.
 
The 2021-22 Nininger Meteorite Award application deadline is February 1, 2023.  Applicants must be the first, but not sole, author of the paper and must have been studying at an educational institution in the United States at the time the paper was written, submitted, or published.
 
H H Nininger
H H Nininger
The Nininger Meteorite Award recipient receives $2,000 and an engraved plaque commemorating the honor.
 
 
 

The Center congratulates Dr. Soumya Ray!

The Center for Meteorite Studies congratulates Dr. Soumya Ray, who succesfully defended her doctoral dissertation August 24th!

A combined investigation of iron and silicon isotopes in meteorites: Implications for planetary accretion and differentiation

Meteorites provide us with an opportunity to reconstruct the history of our Solar System. Differentiated meteorites, also called achondrites, are the result of melting and differentiation processes on their parent body. Stable isotopic compositions of differentiated meteorites and their components have added to our understanding of the physical parameters such as temperature, pressure, and redox conditions relevant to differentiation processes on planetesimals and planets in the early Solar System. In particular, Fe and Si isotopes have proven to be useful in advancing our understanding of the physical and chemical processes during planetary accretion and subsequent evolution.

Soumya RayIn this work, Dr. Ray developed a new method to simultaneously purify Fe and Si from a single aliquot of sample while ensuring consistently high yields and accurate and precise isotopic measurements. She then measured the Fe isotope compositions and Si contents of metals from aubrite meteorites to infer the structure and thermal evolution of their asteroidal parent body. Thereafter, she determined the combined Si and Fe isotope compositions of aubrite metals and the Horse Creek iron meteorite, and compared the magnitude of Si and Fe isotope fractionation factors between metal and silicates for both enstatite chondrites and aubrites to estimate the effect of high-temperature core formation that occurred on the aubrite parent body. She additionally assessed whether correlated Si and Fe isotope systematics can be used to trace core formation and partial melting processes for the aubrite parent body, angrite parent body, Mars, Vesta, Moon, and Earth.

Finally, she measured the combined Fe and Si isotope composition of a variety of ungrouped achondrites and brachinites that record different degrees of differentiation under different redox conditions to evaluate the role of differentiation and oxygen fugacity in controlling their Fe and Si isotope compositions. Taken together, this comprehensive dataset reveals the thermal evolution of the aubrite parent body, provides insights into the factors controlling the Fe and Si isotope compositons of various planetary materials, and helps constrain the bulk starting composition of planets and planetesimals.

CMS60: Dishchii’bikoh Ts’iłsǫǫsé Tsee

To celebrate of 60 years of the Center for Meteorite Studies, we’re posting stories of historical Center events, new research initiatives, exciting outreach programs, conservation and growth of the Center’s invaluable meteorite collection. We invite you to follow us on social media, and share your memories and photos of the Center for Meteorite Studies using #CMS60.
During the early morning hours of June 2, 2016, a bright fireball was widely observed throughout the southwestern US, generating radar reflections consistent with falling meteorite material. Analysis of Doppler radar data showed that stones had likely landed on the southwestern corner of the White Mountain Apache tribal (WMAT) lands.
 
With the help of Jacob Moore (Assistant Vice-president of Tribal Relations at ASU), permission was granted by Ronnie Lupe, the WMAT Tribal Chairman, to enter the tribal lands and search for and collect meteorites. Center Meteorite Curator Laurence Garvie began searching the rugged, mountainous terrain of the WMAT for meteorites, along with (former ASU PhD Candidates, now alumni) Daniel Dunlap, and Prajkta Mane. After over 130 hours of meteorite hunting in remote Arizona backcountry, their efforts were rewarded and they ultimately recovered 15 stones.
 
Upon his return to ASU, Garvie immediately began the work of classifying this new meteorite. Given the name Dishchii’bikoh Ts’iłsǫǫsé Tsee by the White Mountain Apache Tribe, it was determined to be an LL7 chondrite, the fourth witnessed meteorite to fall in Arizona.
 
Dishchii’bikoh Ts’iłsǫǫsé Tsee remains the property of the WMAT, and will be curated in perpetuity by the ASU Center for Meteorite Studies.
Dishchii'bikoh meteorite in the field
Dishchii'bikoh meteorite in the field. Photo: ASU/CMS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ask A Curator Day – Sep 15

Thanks for all your fantastic questions – follow us on Twitter or sign up for our monthly updates for info on upcoming events.

Davidson NWA7034
Center Assistant Research Scientist Dr. Jemma Davidson holds a piece of NWA 7034, a martian polymict-breccia. Photo: ASU/CMS/Davidson.
#Askacurator is open to everyone: Museums, galleries, National Trust, Theatres, and more. You can ask anything that you’re curious about or want more information on.

  • What’s it like to be a curator?
  • How do you decide what to display?
  • What's the strangest object in your collection?

More information is available here.

Not on Twitter?  Email your questions here!

Email (meteorites@asu.edu) or tweet (@ASUMeteorites) the Center with your questions on September 15th! 

*Please note that we will not be identifying potential meteorites as part of this online event.