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Early Solar System

At the ASU Center for Meteorite Studies, we are actively studying the compositions of the most primitive classes of meteorites to better understand the time scales and processes involved in the formation of the first solid grains in the solar nebula, that eventually led to the formation of rocky planets like Earth and Mars.
 
Interim Director Devin Schrader's research involves primitive meteories unaltered since their formation in the early Solar System, as well as meteorites that were thermally and aqueously altered on their parent asteroid. He utilizes petrographic, compositional, thermodynamic, and isotopic data to constrain the pre-accretionary formation conditions and secondary thermal and aqueous alteration processes of small bodies in the early Solar System. He also provides sample science support for NASA's OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission.

Laurence Garvie
Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Research Professor Laurence Garvie's work focuses on high-spatial-resolution microscopic studies of the primitive chondritic meteorites as a means of understanding the physical and chemical processes that resulted in the formation of the Solar System. His particular field of interest is the relationship between organic and inorganic components in the carbonaceous chondrites, which can shed light on the abiotic processing of organic matter in the early Solar System.

Genesis space craft
Artist's conception of the Genesis spacecraft in flight with its collectors deployed. Image: NASA.
Assistant Research Professor Amy Jurewicz's research currently focuses on measuring Fe and Mg abundances in the bulk solar-wind, utilizing solar-wind collector materials returned to Earth by the NASA Genesis mission.  She is additionally working with members of the Genesis Science team and the Johnson Space Center Genesis curatorial staff on a variety of other tasks, including technique development and standardization, sample surface preparation, and outreach activities. Solar-wind samples are a good surrogate for the solar nebula because a preponderance of scientific evidence suggests that the outer layer of the Sun preserves the composition of the early solar nebula.

Asteroidal meteorites represent some of the most ancient solid bodies to have formed in the early history of the Solar System, approximately 4.56 billion years ago.

An artist's depiction of the Hayabusa spacecraft, approaching asteroid 25143-Itokawa. Credit: JAXA
Assistant Research Scientist Jemma Davidson's expertise includes the petrology and isotope chemistry of carbonaceous chondrites (including CM, CO, CR, CV, CK, and ungrouped carbonaceous chondrites), interplanetary dust particles, and their organic and presolar grain components. She also studies ordinary chondrites and Hayabusa-returned particles from asteroid Itokawa. Her research aims to identify and characterize primitive early Solar System samples to aid understanding of the material from which small bodies formed, and to then trace changes in this material as a result of pre- and post-accretionary processes to understand asteroidal evolution in the early Solar System.

We are also investigating various short-lived and long-lived radiogenic isotope systems in several classes of differentiated meteorites, such as primitive achondrites, and the HED group meteorites (believed to have originated on the asteroid 4-Vesta), to precisely determine the timing of silicate differentiation and core formation on asteroidal bodies in the early Solar System.