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1,203 More Antarctic Meteorites Bound for Study

Left: Antarctic view from Mt. Ward across blue ice by Bill Satterwhite/ANSMET 2010-2011. Right: Photo of Rhiannon Mayne with meteorite on the ice/ANSMET 2010=2011.
This report celebrates the return of the ANSMET expedition team from Antarctica. ANSMET, Antarctic Search for Meteorites, is a U.S.-funded cooperative effort among the National Science Foundation (NSF-Office of Polar Programs), NASA, and the Smithsonian Institution. NSF provides support for field research and collection. NASA and the Smithsonian Institution share the responsibilities of classifying, storing, and distributing Antarctic meteorites to researchers around the globe. All three agencies sponsor research on these valuable specimens.

ANSMET collection efforts in the past 34 years have recovered about 18,000 meteorite samples, and this season's team adds another 1,203 that are now being shipped frozen to NASA Johnson Space Center for unpacking and initial inspection. Time on the polar plateau for the ANSMET team members runs roughly the months of December and January; with the leader and mountaineers spending additional time in Antarctica in November finalizing preparations. Their short, austral summertime fieldwork yielded great results.

We welcome home the 2010-2011 expedition, which consisted of two teams whose members lived in Scott tents in remote camps and conducted searches on snowmobiles or on foot traverses. The systematic-search team was responsible for the full-scale systematic meteorite recovery from icefields in the Dominion Range near Davis Nunataks-Mt. Ward in the central Transantarctic Mountains. These icefields lie about half way between McMurdo Station and the South Pole. The Reconnaissance team was a mobile party dedicated to exploring previously unvisited sites to investigate any meteorite concentrations, collect when possible, and assess the potential for future systematic searches.

2010-2011 ANSMET Team Members
Systematic Search Reconnaissance
Ralph Harvey*, Principal Investigator of ANSMET, Case Western Reserve University, Ohio John Schutt*, Science lead and safety officer of ANSMET, Blaine, Washington
Jim Karner*, Post-Doctoral Researcher of ANSMET, Case Western Reserve University, Ohio Steve Ballou, Beloit College, Wisconsin
Shaun Norman*, safety officer, Twizel, New Zealand Melissa Lane, Planetary Science Institute, Arizona
Joe Boesenberg*, American Museum of Natural History, New York Serena Aunon, NASA Johnson Space Center, Texas
Ray Jawardhana, University of Toronto, Toronto  
Inge Loes Ten Kate, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Maryland  
Ryan Zeigler, Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri  
Bill Satterwhite, NASA Johnson Space Center, Texas  
Rhiannon Mayne, Texas Christian University, Texas (pictured above)

Veterans of previous seasons are marked with an asterisk(*).

All ANSMET teams travel through Christchurch, New Zealand, which is the home of the official Antarctic Clothing Distribution Center for extreme cold weather gear and the departure airport for flights to McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Our hearts and thoughts go to the people of Christchurch who are recovering from the February 22, 2011 earthquake.

pdf link, 1,203 More Antarctic Meteorites Bound for Study (pdf version)

For more information see: The ANSMET website, the 2010-2011 ANSMET team blog, the February 2011 Antarctic Meteorite Newsletter, and the PSRD articles Meteorites on Ice and Searching Antarctic Ice for Meteorites.

Added March, 2015: NEW BOOK: 35 Seasons of U.S. Antarctic Meteorites (1976-2010): A Pictorial Guide to the Collection, edited by K. Righter, C. Corrigan, T. McCoy, and R. Harvey, American Geophysical Union and John Wiley & Sons, Inc., December 2014, 320 pages.

Written by Linda Martel, Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, for PSRD.

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February 2011