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Department of Mineral Sciences

Izalco Volcano

The Antarctic Meteorite Program is a cooperative agreement between three agencies - the National Science Foundation, NASA and the Smithsonian Institution - providing for the collection, curation, distribution, and long-term storage of meteorites recovered during annual U.S. expeditions to Antarctica.

Returning more meteorites in the last 30 years than were collected over the entire Earth in the previous 500 years, the Antarctic Search for Meteorites (ANSMET) continues to be an inexpensive yet guaranteed way to recover meteorites from the Moon, Mars, and previously un-sampled asteroids. These rocks are critical to our understanding of the history of the Solar System, providing essential "ground-truth" for our study of the asteroids, planets, and other bodies of our solar system.

The Smithsonian provides initial characterizations of newly collected specimens and, ultimately, permanent storage and distribution to the scientific community. These meteorites are housed at the Museum Support Center clean room facility at Suitland, Maryland, which is modeled after the Lunar Processing Laboratory at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Of the almost 16,000 Antarctic meteorites collected since 1976, over 14,000 have been permanently transferred to the Smithsonian.

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Antarctic ice sheet

Meteorites in Antarctica

Concentrating meteorites

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