As the relative novice on this year’s ANSMET team, with respect to meteorites and meteorite recovery, I’m fascinated and greatly impressed by the rest of the team’s knowledge and passion in the sciences associated with meteorites. This has been, for me, the ultimate field trip, with the ultimate mentors. Naturally, I am learning a tremendous amount about why these meteorites are collected, as well as the process. Paul Scholar has done a great job describing the process of searching for them out on the ice, or in the moraines, and I’ve enjoyed tremendously being part of this activity. So, what happens after we find a meteorite? We first do some field analysis and processing of the meteorites, which includes assigning each specific meteorite a 5-digit number, taking some approximate measurements of the meteorite while simultaneously photographing it, assessing the approximate percentage of “fusion crust” on the exterior of the sample, and noting anything else of interest. Using sterile tongs, the samples are then placed in a sterile teflon bag and sealed, along with a tag that provides the 5-digit assigned number. All of the data is documented in a logbook in the field and transferred into the ANSMET computer back at camp. We also take GPS readings to document the location that each meteorite is found. At the end of the day, all meteorites found and recovered are brought back to camp for inventory, put in another bag, and confirmation that all samples were documented in the field logbook. The samples are then placed in a crate for temporary storage. A second confirmation is later conducted, to ensure that the logbook data transferred into the ANSMET computer correlates with the 5-digit numbers of each and every meteorite. As Sheridan – our “keeper of the meteorites” – has said “we won’t lose any meteorites on my watch!!”. After the second inventory and confirmation, the samples are sealed, and returned to the crates, which will then be sealed and locked, and kept frozen until they are delivered to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas for cataloging and processing (more on that later). Sheridan has done an outstanding job of keeping track of all the meteorites, working to inventory and properly store them at the end of every day, while the rest of us are relaxing and getting ready for dinner. But her job is not quite done yet, as she has to re-supply the meteorite collection kit for the next day’s activities. Kudos to Sheridan and the fantastic job that she’s done to ensure scientific consistency in our sample collection and storage processes!!
PS from RPH as editor. Johnny Ringo also suggested a limerick-like poem for his post that, due to the slight level of crudity (as well as the field team’s belief that I am an insufferable prude), I am posting below with a warning label.
WARNING: THE POEM BELOW DESCRIBES AN EXCRETORY BODILY FUNCTION.
Ode to a Pee Bottle
It was three o’clock this morning and I had to go
But the thermometer said it was twenty below
So I reached for my bottle
And relieved at full throttle
Thus avoiding a very brisk venture in the snow