Meeting Information

A Cometary Fossil Inside an Asteroidal Meteorite

September 16, 2020
Virtual Talk

Date: September 16, 2020
Speaker: Larry Nittler, Carnegie Institute of Washington
Title: A Cometary Fossil Inside an Asteroidal Meteorite
Time and Location: 1:00 PM (See call details below), Virtual Talk (Zoom)

Abstract: Primitive asteroids and comets preserve a record of the starting materials and early evolution of the solar system. Most meteorites come from asteroids and have experienced more processing (for example, aqueous alteration) and have lower abundances of both presolar grains (dust grains that formed in prior generations of stars) and important volatiles like water and organic matter than is seen in extraterrestrial samples thought to originate from comets (mainly interplanetary dust particles and some micrometeorites). We recently reported[1] the discovery of an unusual, extremely carbon-rich, inclusion found in an asteroidal meteorite. The distinct properties of this clast, which is only about one tenth of a millimeter across, suggest that it formed much farther out in the Sun’s protoplanetary disk than did its host meteorite, most likely in the formation region of comets. Its presence in an asteroid thus provides information about radial mixing of materials throughout the disk during the earliest stages of planet formation. This talk will show how chemical and isotopic measurements of primitive extraterrestrial materials, like this carbon-rich clast, can be used to probe key astronomical questions about the origin and early evolution of our solar system.

Biography: Larry Nittler is a cosmochemist and planetary scientist on the scientific staff of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. His research interests span stellar evolution, nucleosynthesis, interstellar and interplanetary dust, meteorites, and the formation and evolution of planets. He earned a BA in Physics from Cornell University and a PhD in Physics from Washington University in St. Louis and joined the Carnegie staff in 2001 after two years as a staff scientist at NASA’s Goddard spaceflight Center. His laboratory research focuses on isotopic and mineralogical properties of microscopic extraterrestrial materials including presolar grains in meteorites, interplanetary dust particles and spacecraft returned samples, including solar wind and comet Wild 2 samples returned by the Genesis and Stardust missions, respectively. He also performs spacecraft-based remote-sensing geochemical research on planetary bodies. He led the analysis of X-ray fluorescence data for the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous mission, which orbited asteroid Eros in 2000-2001, and for the MESSENGER mission, which orbited Mercury from 2011-2015. He also served as Deputy Principle Investigator for MESSENGER. He is on the Science Team for the ESA-JAXA BepiColombo mission, launched last year and on its way to Mercury, and is a Participating Scientist on JAXA’s Hayabusa2 asteroid sample return mission. He received the Nier prize of the Meteoritical Society in 2001 and became a Fellow of the same society in 2010. Asteroid 5992 Nittler is named in his honor. In addition to his scientific research, Larry is a jazz pianist and composer. He lives in Washington DC with his wife, their teen daughter and two cats.

Zoom Call Information

Meeting ID: 955 0767 3720
Passcode: 251197
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