The following is a list of Frequently Asked Questions about ANSMET. The answers are those of Dr. Ralph P. Harvey , Principal Investigator of ANSMET, and in no way reflect official government policy.
Note! I know a few of these questions read like shameless propaganda. That's a side affect of asking the government for research support. Send me E-mail with biting, hard-driven questions!

There is also an FAQ for field party members with details about living in the field, medical requirements, etc.

List of questions- click on them to go to the answers
What is ANSMET?
Why Antarctica?
Why is ANSMET important?
How are the meteorite searches conducted?
What are ANSMET's plans for the future?
How important is ANSMET to planetary science?
Who owns the ANSMET meteorites?
How are ANSMET meteorites distributed?
How many meteorites has ANSMET found?
How is ANSMET unique?
Why do you need so many meteorites?
How have ANSMET meteorites increased our understanding of the solar nebula?
What do meteorites tell us about the geology of the asteroids?
What do meteorites tell us about mass transfer between the planets, and the geology of the moon and Mars?
How have ANSMET meteorites influenced Astrophysics?
What other questions could future specimens answer?
Who runs ANSMET?
Who are the members of ANSMET field parties?
I wanna Go! How do I volunteer?
Where can I get more information on ANSMET?
How are the meteorites numbered?
Does Elvis live in Antarctica?
Where is Tucker Jozef Harvey?

What is ANSMET?

Since 1976, the Antarctic Search for Meteorites program (ANSMET), funded by the Office of Polar Programs of the National Science Foundation, has recovered more than 10,000 specimens from meteorite stranding surfaces along the Transantarctic Mountains. The ANSMET specimens are currently the only reliable, continuous source of new, non-microscopic extraterrestrial material, and will continue to be until future planetary sample-return missions are successful. The samples already recovered provide essential "ground-truth" concerning the materials that make up the asteroids, planets and other bodies of our solar system, and their continued retrieval is the cheapest and only guaranteed way to recover new things from worlds beyond the Earth. The study of ANSMET meteorites has greatly extended our knowledge of the materials and conditions in the primeval nebula from which our solar system was born, revealed the complex and exotic geologic nature of asteroids, and proved, against the conventional wisdom, that some specimens represent planetary materials, delivered to us from the Moon and Mars, free of charge.

Why Antarctica?

Antarctica is the world's premier meteorite hunting-ground for two reasons. Although meteorites fall in a random fashion all over the globe, the likelihood of finding a meteorite is enhanced if the background material is plain and the accumulation rate of indigenous sediment is low. Consequently the East Antarctic icesheet, a desert of ice, provides an ideal background for meteorite recovery- go to the right place, and any rock you find must have fallen from the sky. This allows the recovery of meteorites without bias toward types that look most different from earthrocks (a problem on the inhabited continents) and without bias toward larger sizes. But another factor may be equally important. As the East Antarctic icesheet flows toward the margins of the continent, it's progress is occassionally blocked by mountains or obstructions below the surface of the ice. In these areas, old deep ice is pushed to the surface and can become stagnant, with very little outflow and consistent, slow inflow. When such places are exposed to strong katabatic winds, massive deflation results, removing large volumes of ice and preventing accumulation of snow while leaving a lag deposit of meteorites on the surface. These areas exhibit a variable balance between infall, iceflow and deflation, all of which are intimately tied to environmental change during recent Antarctic history. Over significant stretches of time (tens of thousands of years) phenomenal concentrations of meteorites can develop, as high as 1 per m2 in some locations. Terrestrial exposure ages of meteorites suggest that some stranding surfaces may have been active for hundreds of thousands, or even millions of years. Antarctica is by far the best place on Earth to search for meteorites, and the ANSMET program has proven to be the most reliable and economic way to recover these specimens.

Why is ANSMET important?

The ANSMET specimens have been the only reliable source of new, non-microscopic extraterrestrial material since the Apollo project, and will continue to be until future planetary sample-return missions develop and succeed. Those samples already recovered provide essential "ground-truth" concerning the materials that make up the asteroids, planets and other bodies of our solar system, and their continued retrieval is the cheapest and only guaranteed way to recover new specimens from worlds beyond the Earth. Their distribution and subsequent study has fundamentally changed our understanding of the solar system, greatly extending our knowledge of the materials and conditions present in the nebula from which our solar system was born 4.556 billion years ago. ANSMET meteorites provide samples of asteroids ranging from primitive bodies unchanged since the formation of the solar system to complex, miniature planets, where both traditional and exotic geological activity has taken place. Other ANSMET samples proved, against the conventional wisdom, that some meteorites actually represent planetary materials, delivered to us from the Moon and Mars, free of charge. ANSMET meteorites have even promoted the discovery that meteorites can be used to do astronomy, through the study of isotopically anomalous grains that could only have evolved in a different stellar environment. Over the past twenty years, ANSMET meteorites have provided a continuous, readily available and inexpensive supply of extraterrestrial materials, stimulating new research and shifting the paradigms of planetary geology.

How are the meteorite searches conducted?

The primary goal of ANSMET is to recover an unbiased and uncontaminated sample of meteorites each year. We hope to recover a sufficiently large number of meteorites each season to make it likely that a few unusual or unique specimens will be encountered. These field seasons follow a basic structure developed over the past 25 years for efficient field work with a small logistical footprint. ANSMET recovery teams consisting of 6 people deploy from McMurdo station to locations in the deep field for a period of 5-7 weeks, usually by LC-130, a large cargo aircraft outfitted with skis. The teams are self-sufficient in terms of equipment, fuel, food, and other materials, and no permanent or semi-permanent structures are required. From the landing site, the field team then traverses to an initial meteorite stranding surface, where systematic searching begins. In general, we search exposed blue ice in a series of parallel transects- the 6 field party members form a line, spaced approximately 30 m apart, and slowly drive their snowmobiles across the icefield, scanning visually for specimens in their paths. These transects are arranged to provide significant overlap so specimens are unlikely to be missed, and to minimize exposure to uncomfortable crosswinds which affect visibility. Spacing between individual field party members will vary as the concentration of specimens is taken into account, and if the concentration of samples is sufficiently high, snowmobile transects are replaced by foot searching. Many meteorite stranding surfaces require several years to search because of their size. Training of ANSMET field party members helps ensure consistent recovery methods from year to year. In turn, this ensures that the sum of collected meteorites from a given icefield constitute an unbiased sample of the meteorites falling upon (and contained within) the East Antarctic icesheet. Consequently, ANSMET meteorites serve as a baseline for studies of the size range and proportions of meteoritic material encountered by the Earth in it's orbit.
Once a sample is located, we assign it an identification number, establish its position by GPS, and make note of its size, possible classification, and any distinguishing features such as shape or fusion crust. The sample is then collected in a sterile teflon bag, with care being taken to avoid contact with any mechanical or biological materials. While the field season is in progress, these samples are carefully inventoried and kept frozen. Upon our return to McMurdo, the meteorites are transferred to special shipping containers and sent, still frozen, to the Antarctic Meteorite Curation Facility at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. There the meteorites are carefully removed from their sealed bags, dried to remove any attached snow or ice, and stored under cleanroom conditions.

What are ANSMET's plans for the future?

See the latest plan at the Info for Field Team Members link.

How important is ANSMET to planetary science?

One way to evaluate the importance of ANSMET meteorites to the planetary science community is to compare publication rates with those based on similar material resources of unquestioned importance. A useful comparison is that between studies of ANSMET meteorite samples and lunar samples recovered during the Apollo moon landings; the core objective of both programs was the recovery of planetary materials. One source of comparison is the number of abstracts discussing ANSMET and Apollo samples published at the largest annual meeting of planetary scientists (the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference) over the past five years. For any given year, the number of abstracts concerning ANSMET samples usually exceeds the number of abstracts concerning lunar samples by 20%. In contrast, the number of ANSMET samples discussed in these abstracts is lower than the number of Apollo samples. This reflects the continuous operation of ANSMET since its inception; with new ANSMET materials arriving yearly, many publications are purely descriptive, focusing on a single specimen. In contrast, lunar publications generally focus on incorporating a number of known samples into general theories, resulting in a higher number samples discussed per abstract, on average. From a publication standpoint, ANSMET meteorites currently generate scientific interest at a level equal to if not in excess of that generated by lunar samples. From a more practical viewpoint, although ANSMET meteorites do not provide all of the "ground truth" of samples collected in situ, their collection costs only a minuscule percentage of a space mission, and the continuous supply of samples allows rapid advancement of scientific theory.

Who owns the ANSMET meteorites?

The Antarctic Treaty governs and protects the scientific integrity of all research taking place on the continent of Antarctica, and forbids the removal of specimens of any kind from that continent except as samples to be used for scientific research. In accordance with that treaty, the recovered ANSMET specimens are ultimately the responsibility of the National Science Foundation as an agency of the US government. Since 1980, a three agency agreement has been in place which details the cooperative contributions and responsibilities of NSF, NASA, and the Smithsonian toward use of the recovered meteorites as important scientific specimens. This agreement tasks the NSF to support field operations, NASA to support storage curation, distribution and notification of recovered samples, and the Smithsonian to provide long term curation facilities for the collection and assist in sample characterization. In addition, NSF funds the Meteorite Working Group, a peer group of meteorite researchers created under the three agency agreement to offer expert advice on sample distribution and curation.

How are ANSMET meteorites distributed?

After each new specimen arrives at the Johnson Space Center, and has been freeze-dried to remove any ice or snow, technicians there carefully examine the meteorite both macro- and microscopically. Small chips are broken off of each specimen for initial study, by curatorial staff at both JSC and at the Smithsonian. The product of these initial examinations is a short written description, which is subsequently published in the Antarctic Meteorite Newsletter that is distributed to researchers and facilities around the globe twice each year. This newsletter invites interested researchers to request samples for their investigations by submitting requests to the Meteorite Working Group, a peer group established to oversee distribution of samples. The PIs of ANSMET and field party members do not keep any samples for their own use and do not receive special privileges during subsequent distribution of samples by the Meteorite Working Group. Since 1976, 301 individual investigators representing 24 nations have received more than 10,800 samples. The average number of requests received each year is approximately 75, for an average of nearly 600 samples.

How many meteorites has ANSMET found?

As of the end of the beginning of the 2000 ANSMET field season, roughly 10,000 specimens have been recovered (the number is inexact because the latest finds are still being characterized, and some may not be meteorites). This represents an average number of recoveries of around 350 per season, although the total for any individual season has varied from 30 (in 1976-77) to more than 1000 specimens (in 1987-88, 1997-98 and 1999-2000). All told, including Japanese and European Antarctic meteorites, more than 20,000 specimens have been recovered.

How is ANSMET unique?

Although meteorites have been recovered in Antarctica since the turn of the century (the first being found in 1912), and several other agencies have undertaken systematic Antarctic meteorite collection efforts of their own (notably Japan and the European Council), the details of ANSMET search, recovery and distribution techniques make the US collection the most valuable to science. Painstaking efforts during the fieldwork ensure return of a complete, unbiased sample with as low of a contamination level as possible, while careful training and involvement of professional meteorite researchers help to ensure that all possible meteorites are recovered, even in areas where terrestrial rock is abundant. Superb facilities and exceptionally trained researchers and technicians at the JSC and Smithsonian allow rapid initial characterization and description of large numbers of new finds, while the ANSMET sample distribution system guided by the MWG ensures rapid distribution of samples to interested researchers. These three factors optimize the amount of scientific information preserved in the recovered meteorites and ensure the availability of samples to researchers on a continuous, accessible basis.

Why do you need so many meteorites?

As noted earlier, meteorite science is still in a descriptive, explorational phase. Meteoritic materials, representing samples from many different parent bodies in different stages of planetary development, reveal the full breadth of mineralogical, chemical and textural features present in the inner solar system. The relative scarcity of meteorites, however, puts a severe limit on how complete our understanding of the solar system can be. Even though more than one hundred years of study has produced a very strong theoretical framework that helps researchers identify the place of specific kinds of meteoritic material in the history of the solar system, this framework contains many large gaps and insubstantial boundaries. The significant numerical size and unbiased nature of the ANSMET sample has made it an enormous boon to solar system studies, providing the data necessary to strengthen and "fill in" the existing theoretical framework, as well as expanding it to incorporate conditions not previously considered.
However, even though the ANSMET meteorite collection represents a uniquely complete sample of the meteorites falling to Earth, it is not this aspect that generates the most interest. Instead, as is often the case in science, it is the few unique or extraordinary specimens that are found which generate the majority of interest. A useful way to consider why this is true is to think of the Antarctic meteorite collections as extraterrestrial placer deposits. While the collection as a whole is valuable as a representative of the materials making up the solar system, some specimens are "gold nuggets" far more valuable than others. To find these uniquely valuable specimens, you have to constantly sift through a lot of material. ANSMET's "greatest hits" include more than 28 meteorites that have been requested 10 or more times since 1988. Although these specimens represent less than less than 1/2 of 1% of the meteorites collected by ANSMET, these meteorites generated more than 600 individual research studies during that time. The demand for new specimens is steady and continuous, and the continued recoveries support a high level of research across the curriculum of planetary science. What specific ways have ANSMET meteorites had an impact on planetary science? ANSMET meteorites have extended our understanding of the history and composition of the solar system in many ways. Examples of the particular impact of ANSMET specimens on specific topics in planetary science are listed below.

Understanding the solar nebula

Like any rock sample, meteorites are classified based on their mineralogy, chemistry and texture, which in turn helps to identify the specific conditions that produced them. The most abundant type of meteorites are the chondrites, which lithologically are mechanical mixtures of a wide range of minerals, including refractory silicates, metal, sulfides, and occasionally fine-grained carbonaceous matrix. Chondrites (and in particular the carbonaceous chondrites) have a bulk chemistry similar to that of the sun, and are all very old, the oldest objects known in the solar system. Because of this, chondrites are thought to represent primitive solar nebula material that has subsequently undergone various degrees of metamorphism or other forms of alteration. By studying the chondrites we can learn not only what materials were present in the solar nebula, but also the conditions that were present at the time the solar nebula formed.
ANSMET meteorites have had a tremendous influence on understanding of chondritic meteorites. Most ANSMET chondrites fall within previously known classes, supporting the canonical framework of nebular materials and conditions. However, some specimens fall within gaps in the existing framework. An example of this is the L/LL chondrites whose characteristics are intermediate to those of previously defined L and LL groups, suggesting a relatively smooth variation in nebular conditions and materials instead of discrete and distinct nebular zones. Other ANSMET samples have served to define previously unknown nebular materials or conditions. ANSMET meteorites help to define the distinct EH and EL chondrite groups, which represent materials that solidified under highly reducing conditions within the solar nebula. R chondrites (previously called Carlisle-Lakes-like) represent the opposite end of the spectrum, exhibiting features consistent with formation under conditions much more oxidizing than previously encountered. CR and CH chondrites are carbonaceous groups particularly rich in Fe and other nonvolatile metals, and deficient in volatile elements. These features yield important clues as to the degree of metal/silicate fractionation in the solar nebula and the mixing of materials of low- and high- temperature origin. CK chondrites are another unique group of carbonaceous chondrites partially defined by ANSMET meteorite discoveries. While most carbonaceous chondrites have experienced little thermal metamorphism, the CK chondrites exhibit equilibration temperatures as high as 850°C, suggesting significant processing after incorporation into a parent body setting. An unusual degree of thermal processing of ordinary chondrites is also suggested by several ANSMET specimens exhibiting features consistent with melting.

The geology of the asteroids

Meteorites are fragments of debris produced during energetic collisions between parental bodies in the asteroid belt. Thus meteorites represent not only samples of the surfaces of individual asteroids but their interiors as well. The stochastic nature of this process means that the full range of asteroidal materials is not represented by what falls to Earth over a short period of time. The recovery of large numbers of Antarctic meteorites, which represent an unbiased, long term collection, has provided tremendous advances in our understanding of the asteroids. ANSMET meteorites have shown that the asteroids are not simply a collection of a few dozen "primitive" bodies, with a few more complex bodies thrown in; instead we see a set of complex, miniature planets, exhibiting features consistent with gradational levels of planetary processing, involving both traditional and decidedly exotic geological activity. As noted earlier, ANSMET meteorite finds have extended the known boundaries of parent body metamorphism and shown that impact processing has had an extensive influence on the evolution of asteroids. ANSMET recoveries have vastly improved our understanding of previously known igneous meteorites by extending the range of materials known to exist on these parent bodies. Antarctic meteorites from the howardite-eucrite-diogenite clan, thought to be samples from the surface of the asteroid 2 Vesta, portray a parent planet with a rich history of differentiation, partial melting, fractional crystallization and crystal settling. At the same time, new aubrite specimens have strengthened the case for their origin as products of partial melting of an E chondrite parent. ANSMET meteorites have revealed the presence of many more disrupted parent bodies than previously thought, through the presence of iron meteorites with unique compositions. ANSMET meteorites have provided many new samples of previously unique igneous lithologies, revealing them to be samples of geologically active parent bodies rather than oddballs or curiosities. These include the angrites and brachinites, distinct olivine- and feldspar- rich igneous rocks suggesting various degrees of partial melting on primitive, chondritic parent bodies. They also include much more complex scenarios of partial melting and mixing of partially differentiated protoplanets, as evidenced by the acapulcoites, lodranites and ureilites. Finally, it should be noted that there are still some achondrites of "unknown" affinity within the ANSMET collection, and only further recoveries can establish their place in the history of the solar system. ANSMET meteorites continue to reveal a new level of complexity among the asteroids, and serve as important analogs now that direct study of asteroids by spacecraft has begun.

Mass transfer between the planets, and the geology of the moon and Mars.

One of the most important discoveries based on ANSMET meteorites was that some samples were actually derived not from the asteroids but from the moon and Mars. The conventional wisdom 20 years ago was that any specimens knocked off a planet- sized body by an impact would be altered beyond recognition if not completely vaporized. This paradigm was completely overturned by the discovery of ANSMET meteorite ALH81005, an anorthositic breccia so similar to Apollo lunar highlands samples that all investigators agreed it had to have come from the Earth's Moon. Since that time ANSMET has recovered 6 more lunar specimens, providing a random, global sample of the lunar surface, illustrating the global distribution of basaltic and anorthositic lithologies, and confirming bulk lunar characteristics. Since that time, several researchers have created models examining the pathways and predicting the number of meteorites that may be reaching our planet from various sources. Equally important was the discovery of new members of the SNC group of igneous meteorites, whose young crystallization age distinguished them from "normal" achondrites. Speculation as to the parent planet of the SNC meteorites effectively ended when it was found that shock-produced glass in the ANSMET meteorite EET79001 contained a suite of trapped noble gases identical to the current atmosphere of Mars, as measured by the Viking landers. These specimens have become windows into the geology of Mars, as the only available samples from that planet. In general terms, their study has provided an absolute chronology for igneous events on Mars; allowed direct study of the composition and properties of the Martian crust, core and bulk planet; provided information on the size and behavior of the volatile inventory of the planet.; and showed the presence of organic compounds. In addition, the martian meteorites provide the best possible "analog" for upcoming robotic and sample return missions to Mars.

Stardust.

One of the most exciting revolutions in meteorite studies is taking place today, and ANSMET meteorites play a subtle but important role. As already noted, chondritic meteorites are thought to represent samples of the solar nebula, and are carefully studied to help understand the kinds of materials and conditions that were present at the beginning. But some chondrites exhibit puzzling isotopic signatures, particularly among the noble gases, that do not make sense in terms of the bulk qualities of the solar nebula. Researchers expended great effort to find the carriers of these strange isotopic signatures, in the hopes that a more concentrated sample would yield clues as to their origin. This research required breaking down valuable samples into their most stable, inert components through extremely destructive mechanical and chemical extractions. Such destructive techniques are hard to justify when samples are rare, and hard to replace- but the abundant chondritic material represented by Antarctic meteorites help make this work plausible. Eventually, carrier phases of these strange isotopic signatures were isolated as dispersed, very rare components of chondritic meteorites. These phases include diamond, silicon carbide, aluminum oxide, graphite, and other refractory minerals, each with a distinct isotopic signature that could not have been produced by known solar-system processes. Different stellar environments provide the only plausible source for these grains. More than 7 distinct environments have been isolated so far, including the extended envelope of red giant stars, the explosive shell of recent supernovae, and active Wolf-Rayet stars). In essence, these grains derived from meteorites provide us with samples of different stars, and allow researchers to perform astrophysical studies based on samples rather than observation or theory. Although this field is literally only a few years old, it is already revolutionizing our understanding of stars and the interstellar medium. Without the large numbers of readily available samples provided by ANSMET and other Antarctic meteorite sources, this kind of research could not have progressed so rapidly.

What other questions could future specimens answer?

ANSMET meteorites have helped turn many unique specimens reated only as curiosities into representatives of important groups- giving context to specimens that previously were problematic exceptions to the general rules. However, meteoritics is still a science in desperate need of new data to help fill gaps in current theories. Acceptance of mass transport between solar system bodies offers researchers the opportunity to search through the ANSMET collection for types of meteorites that are thought to exist, but might not otherwise be recognized. For example, aubrites represent relatively abundant cumulate pyroxene rocks from a differentiated parent body of enstatite chondrite parentage, but we have yet to find meteorites that represent the basaltic component that must exist on such a differentiated body; why?. Similarly, we have representatives of both basaltic and pyroxene-rich rocks thought to have come from Vesta, and these meteorites match up with reflectance spectra of specific regions on that asteroid. But significant regions of Vesta exhibit the spectral signature of abundant olivine, and no corresponding olivine-rich meteorites have been found; why? We have meteorites that provide us with samples of the surface rocks of Mars and the Moon- do we also have some that from Mercury or Venus? The unbiased nature of the ANSMET collection has prompted some researchers to look for them. On an immensely broader scale, studies of ordinary chondrites still have not told us the range of conditions present in the solar nebula- we do not know how homogeneous it was on larger scales, we do not know how, when, or how evenly it was heated, we do not even know what mechanisms are responsible for the formation of chondrules, the single most common building block of the solar system. ANSMET meteorites have played a critical role in past progress in planetary science, and their future collection represents our best chance of answering these questions in the future. In a sense, the ANSMET meteorite program has become a fishing expedition, trolling nets through the extraterrestrial debris reaching the Earth. Although not every trip will produce an exciting catch, only continuous active searching can guarantee that key specimens will eventually be recovered.

Who runs ANSMET?

During its twenty year history of NSF support, the ANSMET program has been funded by the Earth Sciences section in the Office of Polar Programs. This reflects the nature of ANSMET research- we conduct field work in the Transantarctic mountains, collecting rock samples to which geological techniques are applied. From 1976 to 1995, research grants have been awarded to Prof. William A. Cassidy (of the University of Pittsburgh) Since 1996, Dr. Ralph P. Harvey (of Case Western Reserve University) has been the principal investigator. The ANSMET proposals have also listed Mr. John Schutt as mountain guide and field safety officer since 1981.

Who are the members of ANSMET field parties?

Dr. Ralph Harvey and John Schutt are members of each field party, serving as ANSMET continues to be one of the few Antarctic research projects that invites graduate students and senior researchers from other institutions to participate in our field work on a volunteer basis. These individuals, usually with a history of research involving Antarctic meteorites, gain significant insight into the collection circumstances surrounding their primary research materials. Many of these volunteers have been graduate students, some of which have produced dissertations based partially or wholly on studies of Antarctic meteorites. Nearly 100 individuals have participated in ANSMET research over the past two decades.

I wanna Go! How do I volunteer?

Here's the first step- think about it for a minute. Do you really want to freeze your rear end off, living in a tent for 45 days, with no contact to the outside world, no warm bathrooms, no showers, no web surfing, no cable? If you fail that intelligence test, then the next step is simply a letter (on paper, please) stating your interest in the program. Three things are especially important. First, make sure you tell me why you want to go, concentrating on the benefits you foresee to your academic achievements (how would it relate to your studies?). As noted in the previous FAQ, virtually all of the people who go to Antarctica with ANSMET are graduate students or established scientists working on planetary materials. Similarly, don't expect us to be too impressed with an adventure-filled life. While we do appreciate applicants with some camping experience, we want to have as few adventures in the field as possible- your academic standing is what will get you in, not your jet-propelled sky diving or your training in underwater helicopter maintainance.
Second, make sure you tell me where you are in your studies and when you are available. Just saying "I could go anytime" is not as useful as saying "I will finish my degree in spring of 98 and would love to go for the 98-99 season" or "I'm on sabbatical and can only go in 1999".
Finally, be patient. We have a long list of volunteers, and we typically take only 3 new people each year. Those who get to go are usually the ones willing to re-apply and stay in touch year after year. Other things to do: list some references in the letter, people that know you rather than people that know me. And look for me at meetings, and introduce yourself- that helps me see how you would fit in with other people. Typically I go to the LPSC meeting, the Meteoritical Society meeting, and national GSA each year.

Where can I get more information on ANSMET?

Several websites exist that offer information on ANSMET and related activities. Links to these sites are available on

the ANSMET home page.

Alternatively, the individuals below can be contacted via email or telephone:

Name / Position / Email address / Telephone

Dr. Ralph P. Harvey, Principal Investigator, ANSMET
rph@po.cwru.edu 216-368-3690

Prof. William A. Cassidy, Principal Investigator, ANSMET
ansmet@vms.cis.pitt.edu 412-624-8780

Dr. Marilyn Lindstrom, Curator, Johnson Space Center
lindstrom@curate.jsc.nasa.gov 713-483-5135

Dr. Timothy McCoy, Curator, Smithsonian Inst.
Mccoy.Tim@NMNH.SI.EDU 202-357-2260

Dr. Scott Borg, Program Manager, Office of Polar Programs, NSF
sborg@nsf.gov 703-306-1033

How are the meteorites numbered?

The ANSMET meteorite labelling system is distinct from that used for Apollo moon rocks in several ways. When a meteorite is found it is given a field number that we use purely for bookkeeping purposes- this number has no information concerning year, type, size, etc, and is used to correlate the specimen with our field notes. The specimen retains this number until all the meteorites arrive at the lab at Johnson Space Center. At that time, the meteorites are prioritized- the specimens with the greatest likelyhood of being "interesting" are looked at first. The very first one from the 1996-97 field season to be looked at will be given the name EET96001, the second EET96002, etc. Thus the first three letters designate the geographical area where the meteorite was found (in this example, Elephant Moraine), and the last three digits designate the order in which the specimen was examined in the lab. There are a few exceptions to this rule- QUE 93069, a lunar meteorite from the Queen Alexandra Range, was the first specimen looked at from the 93-94 season, but was given the number "069" in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Apollo project.

Does Elvis live in Antarctica?

No, the secret Nazi UFO base at the South Pole, guarded by Yeti love-slaves who are actually captured pre-Grey aliens, drove Elvis away when he attempted to rescue Jim Morrison and Paul McCartney. And that guy from Nirvana, yeah, what's his name.......

Where is Tucker Jozef "Snowcat" Harvey?

Click here for the answer...