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ANSMET 2015-2016 North to South in the Miller Range, Antarctica

Two meteorites collected in Antarctica: 2015-2016 ANSMET.

2015-2016 ANSMET Team Members
John Schutt*, head mountaineer and field safety officer since 1980, Case Western Reserve University, Ohio
Jim Karner*, science lead, Case Western Reserve University, Ohio
Brian Rougeux*, second mountaineer
Constantine (Con) Tsang, Southwest Research Institute
Morgan Martinez*, University of California San Diego
Cindy Evans, NASA Johnson Space Center
Ellen Crapster-Pregont, Columbia University and the American Museum of natural History
Nina Lanza, Los Alamos National Laboratory
            Veterans of previous seasons are marked with an asterisk (*).

The Antarctic Search for Meteorites (ANSMET) program returned to the Miller Range for the ninth time. Three big icefields and a dozen or so smaller icefields throughout the Miller Range have yielded such a bonanza of recovered meteorites (~2400 leading up to this season) that an ANSMET team has worked here every other year since 2003. The diverse meteorites recovered so far in the Miller Range (designated with the MIL prefix) belong to 65 different classes, including rare types such as nakhlites, lunar meteorites, unclassified achondrites, and olivine diogenites. This season's team recovered 569 meteorite specimens that are now enroute to the Antarctic Meteorite laboratory at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston Texas.

The 2015-2016 team conducted snowmobile-aided and boots-on-the-ice traverses across previously unsearched ice in their systematic search for meteorites at the margins of the northern Miller Range icefields. A planned mid-season move in late December brought the team to the southern end of the range, where they reported their coldest temperatures of -7 degrees Fahrenheit. Winds whipped up to 60 mph.

ANSMET is a NASA-funded program meeting the strong scientific demand for new extraterrestrial specimens. As described at the ANSMET website by Principal Investigator Ralph Harvey (Case Western Researve University), "These specimens are a reliable, continuous source of new, non-microscopic extraterrestrial material and support thousands of scientists from around the globe as they seek essential 'ground-truth' concerning the materials that make up the asteroids, planets and other bodies of our solar system." NASA and the Smithsonian Institution share the responsibilities of classifying, storing, and distributing Antarctic meteorites to researchers around the globe. Details of curation, characterization, and allocation of the ANSMET meteorites are available from the NASA Johnson Space Center: Qualified scientists are directed to that site for more information about procedures and deadlines for sample requests.

pdf link ANSMET 2015-2016 Field Season in the Miller Range, Antarctica (pdf version)

For more information see: the ANSMET website, the February 2016 Antarctic Meteorite Newsletter, and from PSRD: ANSMET 2011-2012 Field Season in the Miller Range,   ANSMET 2013-2014 Field Season in the Miller Range,   Meteorites on Ice,  and  Searching Antarctic Ice for Meteorites.

See NASA Tumblr post with pictures from the 2015-2016 ANSMET expedition.

See also: 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 2016