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Department of Mineral Sciences

Izalco Volcano

The U.S. Antarctic meteorite program is a National Science Foundation, NASA, and Smithsonian program that collects, curates and distributes meteorites to scientists world wide. Since 1976, the program has amassed over 20,000 meteorites, including the first meteorites recognized as originating from the Moon and Mars. Its success owes in large part to excellent collection support and high curation standards. Curation standards are defined in the Federal Regulation 45 CFR Part 674 to ensure the highest quality collection and preservation. The Smithsonian Institution is designated as the long-term repository and recently constructed a class 10,000 clean room that exceeds required curation standards.

After 5 years of planning and construction, the class 10,000 clean room was open for meteorite storage and use in November 2011. The total cost of the clean room was estimated at ~$2 million U.S. dollars ($500,000 for construction and $1.5 million for cabinets, plumbing, and laboratory equipment.)

Ten new and four refurbished high-density stainless steel cabinets hold up to 60 pans for a maximum load of 500 kg of meteorites per cabinet. The storage cabinets will provide opportunities to arrange the collection by meteorite class, and accommodate an additional 20 years of growth.

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