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New Discoveries Lecture: Exploring the Solar System through Meteorites - Oct 4

Join ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration for Center for Meteorite Studies Director Meenakshi Wadhwa's upcoming New Discoveries lecture "Exploring the Solar System through Meteorites"!

In recent years, the exploration of our Solar System has been greatly enabled by ever more sophisticated robotic spacecraft that have been sent to a variety of destinations such as the Moon, Mars, Mercury, and the outer planets. Only a handful of these destinations have been sampled by humans (like the Apollo missions to the Moon) or robotic missions (like NASA’s Stardust mission to comet Wild 2). Meteorites provide a means of sampling a wide variety of Solar System materials (including from many different asteroids, the Moon, and Mars) with minimal expense. The downsides, however, are the lack of geological context and the fact that residence in the terrestrial environment can alter some of their chemical features. Nevertheless, studies of meteoritic samples have led to some astounding advances in our understanding of how and when the solar system and planets were formed. In this talk, I will discuss some of these advances. I will also discuss some experiments that we recently conducted to better understand how exposure to environmental conditions on the surface of the Earth changes some important chemical characteristics of meteorites.

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Dr. Meenakshi Wadhwa is Director of the Center for Meteorite Studies in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University. She received her PhD in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Washington University in St. Louis. Her research focuses on the origin and evolution of the Solar System and planets through studies of meteorites, Moon rocks and other extraterrestrial samples returned by spacecraft missions. She has hunted for meteorites in Antarctica with the NASA- and NSF-funded Antarctic Search for Meteorites (ANSMET) Program, and has also conducted fieldwork in Iceland to collect volcanic materials as analogs of crustal rocks on Mars. She was recently invited to participate as a member of the Initial Sample Analysis Team for the Japanese Space Agency’s Hayabusa2 mission that will be returning samples from the asteroid Ryugu in 2020. Dr. Wadhwa is currently serving as Chair of the Science Committee of the NASA Advisory Council and as Vice President of the Meteoritical Society. Asteroid 8356 has been named 8356 Wadhwa in recognition of her contributions to planetary science.