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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Department of Mineral Sciences

Izalco Volcano

Over the past 30 years, Antarctic meteorites have provided a continuous, inexpensive supply of extraterrestrial materials. Among the 16,000 specimens, we have collected the first meteorites identified as coming from the Moon and Mars, completed our sampling of a wide range of asteroids that were previously known from only a single strange rock, identified a rock that may hold keys to the origin of life elsewhere in the Solar System, and sampled processes that occurred even before our Solar System formed. As we enter the 21st century, spacecraft missions are planned that will return samples of asteroid, comets, and Mars. Rather than replacing the Antarctic meteorites, they will only make them more valuable in providing the framework we will use to interpret these rare returned samples. In addition, Antarctic meteorites come to us at a fraction of the cost of a single spacecraft mission. More than ever, our forays to the Antarctic plateau are really journeys to understand where we came from.

« Previous: Curation of Meteorites

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Lunar meteorites

Martian meteorites

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