The Antarctic Search for Meteorites
This award, provided by the Antarctic Geology and Geophysics Program of the Office of Polar Programs, provides funds for continuation of the Antarctic Search for Meteorites (ANSMET). Since 1976, ANSMET has recovered more than 10,000 meteorite specimens from locations along the Transantarctic Mountains. This award supports continued recovery of Antarctic meteorites during six successive austral summer field seasons, starting with the 2000-2001 season and ending with the 2005-2006 season. Under this project, systematic searches for meteorite specimens will take place at previously discovered stranding surfaces, and reconnaissance work will be conducted to discover and explore the extent of new areas with meteorite concentrations. ANSMET recovery teams will deploy by air to locations in the deep field for periods of 5-7 weeks. While at the meteorite stranding surface, field team members will search the ice visually, traversing on foot or on snowmobile. Specimens will be collected under the most sterile conditions practical and samples will remain frozen until returned to the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas. At the JSC, initial characterization and sample distribution to all interested researchers takes place under the auspices of an interagency agreement between NSF, NASA, and the Smithsonian Institution.
The impact of ANSMET has been substantial and this will continue under this award. The meteorites recovered by ANSMET are the best and most reliable source of new, non-microscopic extraterrestrial material, providing essential "ground-truth" concerning the materials that make up the asteroids, planets and other bodies of our solar system. The system for their characterization and distribution is unparalleled and their subsequent study has fundamentally changed our understanding of the solar system. ANSMET meteorites have helped researchers explore the conditions that were present in the nebula from which our solar system was born 4.556 billion years ago and provided samples of asteroids, ranging from primitive bodies unchanged since the formation of the solar system to complex, geologically active miniature planets. ANSMET samples proved, against the conventional wisdom, that some meteorites actually represent planetary materials, delivered to us from the Moon and Mars, completely changing our view of the geology of those bodies. ANSMET meteorites have even generated a new kind of inquiry into one of the most fundamental scientific questions possible; the question of biological activity in the universe as a whole. Over the past twenty years, ANSMET meteorites have economically provided a continuous and readily available supply of extraterrestrial materials for research, and should continue to do so in the future.
AMD - DIF Record(s)
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