[meteorite-list] SIPI Students to Help ID Meteorites
From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:37:36 2004
SIPI Students to Help ID Meteorites
By John Fleck
December 19, 2000
With the help of some money from NASA, University of New Mexico
scientists plan to enlist students at Southwestern Indian Polytechnic
Institute in the search for meteorites.
UNM's Institute of Meteoritics gets some 200 rocks a year from members of
the public who bring them in for analysis, thinking they might be
meteorites, according to institute scientist Horton Newsom.
Most aren't, but the process of telling the good from the bad will offer
SIPI students a lesson in geology and the chance to help make the occasional
rare find, Newsom said.
Thanks to a $402,000 grant from the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration, UNM and SIPI will set up a Meteorite Identification
Laboratory next year at SIPI's Albuquerque campus.
The students will learn how to help Newsom and his colleagues with the
endless job of sorting through the rocks brought in by the public, hunting
for real meteorites.
Sometimes people bring in pieces of lava thinking they are a meteorite -
a rock that has fallen from space.
Sometimes they are slag from old mines, or "iron mill balls" of metal
used in cement plant crushers.
In about 80 percent of the cases, a quick look tells the scientists all
they need to rule out the possibility that the rock is a meteorite.
The rest take more careful study, sometimes using powerful electron
microscopes at UNM.
The NASA money will help SIPI students learn how to judge whether a rock
might be a meteorite, said Cathy Abeita, director of special programs at
And there is a chance that one of the rocks they study will turn out to
have come from space.
"We do find one or two a year," Newsom said.
Received on Tue 19 Dec 2000 01:05:44 PM PST