New meteorites need new names…

To be able to give the meteorites we have recovered a formal name we have to go through some procedures…

Dense meteorite stranding zones (areas where lots of meteorites are found) are awarded a name by the Meteoritical Society Nomenclature committee. The meteorites recovered from these areas are then named after these sites – for example the first recognised lunar meteorite Allan Hills (ALHA for short) 81005 is named after the Allan Hills icefield A in Antarctica. Thus, to be given a name we need the place that the meteorites are found to be called something!

Our issue is that the regions we visited in Antarctica had not been formally allocated names by the countries who administrate these areas. So we have gone through two different routes to formally assign names to the field sites we visited so that we can use the names of these geographical features in future research publications and use them to name the meteorites we recovered.

We are happy to announce that our two main field areas have been approved as the Outer Recovery Icefields in Dronning Maud Land by the Norwegian Polar Institute and Hutchison Icefield in Coats Land (British Antarctic Territory ) by the UK Antarctic Place-names Committee. Both of these field sites contain nunataks (mountain tops emerging from the ice), which have also been named after meteorite and meteor scientists (see below for details). The UK site names are included in the UK Antarctic Gazetteer (https://apc.antarctica.ac.uk/) and are available for use on all maps and charts and in all publications. They are also included in the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) Composite Gazetteer of Antarctica (https://data.aad.gov.au/aadc/gaz/scar/ ).

These names have now also been approved by the Meteoritical Society as dense meteorite collection areas and we will be able to call the meteorites either OUT (for those collected at the Outer Recovery Icefields) and HUT for those collected from the Hutchison Icefield.

Regional context of the fieldsites for the Lost Meteorites of Antarctica project. See below for details of the two areas highlighted with black boaxes. Base map is Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica. Image: Katherine Joy.

Outer Recover Icefields Area

Outer Recovery Icefields. named because of its proximity to the Recovery Glacier found adjacent to the northern extent of the area. Link to online Norwegian record.

Halliday Nunatak (81°24’32.97″S, 18° 1’59.88″W): Located in the Outer Recovery Icefields. named after Canadian astronomer Dr Ian Halliday (1928-2018) who was a Canadian astronomer with expertise in meteor (asteroid and comet) delivery rates to the Earth. Link to online Norwegian record

Outer Recovery Icefield area showing locations of the nunatak and four separate blue ice fields. Base map is Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica overlain with high resolution Sentinel 2 image. Map scale is 1:250,000 Image: Katherine Joy.

Hutchison Icefield Area

Hutchison Icefield (81°30′ 30″S, 26°10’W): Named after British meteorite scientist Dr Robert Hutchison (1938-2007) who was the Curator of Meteorites at the Natural History Museum, London. He was Head of the Cosmic Mineralogy Research Programme at the NHM, and responsible for the national meteorite collection, one of the most significant meteorite collections in the world. Awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 2002; asteroid 5308 named Hutchison by the International Astronomical Union. Named in association with names of pioneering meteoriticists grouped in this area. Link to online SCAR record.

Turner Nunatak (81°27′ 50.42″S, 26°24’48.88″W): Located in the Hutchison Icefield. Named after Professor Grenville Turner FRS (b. 1936) pioneering lunar and meteorite scientist, Emeritus Professor at the University of Manchester. He established the University of Manchester Isotope Cosmochemistry group and his pioneering work on rare gases in meteorites led him to develop the argon–argon dating technique that demonstrated the great age of meteorites and provided a precise chronology of rocks brought back by the Apollo missions. He was one of the few UK scientists to be a Principal Investigator of the Apollo samples during the time of the US manned Moon missions. Link to online SCAR record.

Pillinger Nunatak (81°34’40″S, 26°24’15″W): Located in the Hutchison Icefield. Named after Professor Colin Pillinger FRS (1943-2014), English planetary scientist who was a founding member of the Planetary and Space Sciences Research Institute at Open University in Milton Keynes, and through his career studied stable isotopes in Apollo Moon samples, martian meteorites and asteroidal meteorites. He was also the Principal Investigator for the British Beagle 2 Mars lander project. Link to online SCAR record.

Map showing Hutchison Icefield area with Turner nunatak to the north and Pillinger nunatak to the south. Karpenko massif is a region of disturbed ice named after a Russian Engineer Aleksei Illaryonovich Karpenko (1940-82). Base map is Sentinel 2 image. Image: Dr Adrian Fox (UK Antarctic Place-names Committee)

With many thanks to Dr Adrian Fox (UK Antarctic Place-names Committee), Dr Oddveig Øien Ørvoll of the Norwegian Polar Institute for all of their help with the naming of these regions and advice from Laura Gerrish at the British Antarctic Survey.

Research progress and LPSC 2021 conference presentation

We are working hard to classify the meteorites collected in Antarctica and will update you very soon with some news about what we have found.

Tom Harvey, who is an STFC student working on investigating the physical properties of the collection has some new results out which will be presented at the 2021 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference next week. His abstract citation is: T. A. Harvey, J. L. MacArthur , K. H. Joy, R. H. Jones (2021) None-destructive determination of the physical properties of Antarctic meteorites. 52nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 2021 (LPI Contrib. No. 2548) https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2021/pdf/1897.pdf

His iposter (a new type of interactive conference poster) can be viewed at https://lpsc2021.ipostersessions.com/Default.aspx?s=52-18-56-30-B1-EC-C2-FC-8D-BA-95-A5-01-76-56-24 and has some amazing sneak previews of the meteorites captured through his photogrammetry technique.

Night out

Romain Tartese | 28 Nov 2019

Hello world, it’s Romain here, from Rothera! As Katie mentioned in her blog post yesterday, we were lucky to spend the night out last night with Wouter, our guide Rob, and a couple of other people. And it was stunning! The weather has been amazing over the past few days, and the views from the ‘campsite’ are well worth it. Driving up the hill, it started with great views down toward Rothera, as you can see in the photo below.

View toward Rothera on the way up to the ‘campsite’ [Credit: R. Tartese]

Rob then taught us how to put up a pyramid tent, which is the tent that will keep us warm when out in the field in a few days. It was fairly straightforward to set up, but of course the weather might not be so kind next time we’ll have to put it up. Once set up we got to realise what we really signed up for (i.e. 5-6 weeks living in a tent…), and I’ve got to say these tents are pretty comfortable for 2 people.

Wouter paying close attention to Rob’s instructions [Credit: R. Tartese]

All in all we had great fun and a great night of sleep, in fact a bit too warm in these very thick sleeping bags and such a mild weather. More fun today, with some exciting skidoo training. Now back to put all our kit together! I’ll leave you with a few photos from the ‘campsite’ 🙂

View from last night campsite [Credit: R. Tartese]
Tent with a view! [Credit: R. Tartese]

Made it to Punta Arenas

25 Nov 2019

Hi there, it’s Romain! We made it to Punta Arenas, at the southern tip of Chile, last night after a few flights that took us across the Atlantic to Sao Paulo and then Santiago in Chile.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We were welcomed by a very Manchester-like weather of 7-8 degres accompanied by drizzle! This morning after breakfast we’ll be updated on whether the weather is good enough  for our Dash flight to take us to Antarctica! As a newbie whom has never been to Antarctica, I am very excited!!

Romain

 

Meteorite searching in hotter deserts

18 Nov 2019

You can pop over to our sister blog site at Earth and Solar System https://earthandsolarsystem.wordpress.com/2019/11/17/atacama-meteorite-recovery-expedition-2019/ to see what two of the UK Antarctic Meteorites team (Katherine Joy and Romain Tartese) have been up to over the last couple of weeks in the Atacama desert.

Somewhat warmer meteorite hunting than our forthcoming season on the ice!

Getting ready to head to the ice

Katie Joy | 27 Sep 2019

It only seems like we just got back from Svalbard, but the next phase of the Lost Meteorites project field campaign has reached a milestone. We have packed up all of our equipment to send down to Antarctica for the upcoming field campaign.

The plan at the moment is for four team members – Geoff (project PI), Wouter (l field engineer), Katie (meteorite expert) and Romain (meteorite expert) to get to BAS’s Rothera reserach station in late November, and then travel onto the field to meet up with our field guide Taffs for the remote fieldsite campaign.

To support our final field season we have packed up and shipped all the items we are going to need for the planned season:

  • Five of our metal detector panels – we are taking two arrays with us (with five panels per array) and all the updated design of the electronic signal processing system boxes
  • the panel array towing kit (see below)
  • ice augers for extracting ice-bound meteorites
  • meteorite collection kits to recover meteorites found and within the ice
  • ancillary field gear

All this equipment is now making its way south so we look forward to seeing it in Antarctica in November!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Welcome Jane!

25 Sep 2019

We have a new Lost Meteorites of Antarctica team member!

Welcome to Dr Jane MacArthur, who did her PhD at the Univeristy of Leicester, has started working in the Dept. of Earth and Environmental Sciences Isotope Group to help with the meteorite classification activities. Jane has expertise working with martian meteorites and samples collected by the Stardust comet sample return mission, and brings with her a lot of knowledge about different meteorite groups. 

We are looking forward to getting started on seeing what types of samples were recovered in the first field campaign and hope to post some exciting updates in the near future. 

A note about field communications

Katie Joy | 06 Feb 2019

Now I am back in the land of the internet I just wanted to send a huge thanks to Andy Smedley who has worked really hard back in Manchester to do all the blog posts when Geoff and I have been out in the field.

The way things have (mostly) been working is that I would send Andy the blog words in a text file via our in-field Iridium Go satellite phone link along with a selection of photos. He then gets everything into the blog site for posting — so thanks very much to him for all his efforts as it can be a bit of a faff to get everything in place and I know he was working at weekends to get things live as quickly as possible.

Some of the twitter has been me from the field with direct updates (the magic of the sat phone again) and most other tweets have been from Andy.

It seems that the link has compressed down the resolution of most of the images I sent to save it bandwidth use, so at some stage I will put up some nice high resolution versions.

Many thanks also to those of you who have been following the blog, we appreciate your interest in the project and will keep on posting updates as we have exciting news stories to post over the next few weeks / months.

Back at Rothera and heading towards home

Katie Joy | 06 Feb 2019

A quick update to say that we arrived safely back at Rothera Research Station around 9 pm last night. Vicky put in an amazing effort to get us back from Halley on the Twin Otter all in one day with bad weather swirling around. Goodbye to Halley and the fab team of people who are working really hard there to wrap up the end of their season of work. Thanks so much to all for making our field season a success and for your hospitality looking after us so well.

IMG_3881v1
Goodbye to Halley research station — now raised up on its legs higher than when we came through just before New Year.

The views on route as we winged our way west were amazing out of the window (when I wasn’t snoozing) and we got a great view of the mountains close to Fossil Bluff through the mist and also saw a glory in the mist layer (see photo and caption for more). On flights like this, you realise how big Antarctica is and how flat and white and expansive most of the landscape is — just miles and miles of sastrugi-covered snow surfaces, with the occasional crevasse or rocky nunatak to break the horizon.

IMG_3888v1
Stunning mountain tops on route with long shadows as the austral summer comes to an end and some twilight starts to return
IMG_3917v2
Fully circular “rainbow” seen from the plane in the mist layer — more properly called a Glory

Rothera has changed somewhat since we were last here, with the new wharf works ongoing, but there are a few seals swimming around in the bay. Today has been a day of sorting out shipping and items to get back home before I am due to fly back tomorrow on the Dash 7 back to Punta and then onto the UK over the weekend.