Francis McCubbin, Astromaterials Curator
Volume 3 No. 1 • March 2021
Welcome to the fifth issue of the Astromaterials Newsletter! The Astromaterials Newsletter is a bi-annual publication produced by the Astromaterials Acquisition and Curation Office at NASA Johnson Space Center to inform the sample science community about updates to our policies, collections, and available samples. In particular, the Astromaterials Newsletter will be our exclusive mechanism for announcing new samples or new sample opportunities available to the community across all of our collections, and we publish the Astromaterials Newsletter on the same cadence as the Antarctic Meteorite Newsletter.
The primary aim of the Astromaterials Newsletter is to maximize the science returns from our exiting collections through better communication and advertisement of sample availability to the scientific community. A big part of that improved communication is to provide updates to the sample analysis community about what is going on in our labs and at JSC that could impact the collections or the timing of sample allocations. Most importantly, the Astromaterials Newsletter was established to provide a fair and transparent process by which the community receives information about available samples across all our collections.
Impacts on Curation from COVID-19 PandemicOn Wednesday March 18th, the Johnson Space Center moved to a Stage 3 status in response to the pandemic, and we remain at Stage 3 today. Under Stage 3, telework is mandatory for everyone unless their work is deemed mission critical or mission essential. Monitoring and maintaining the integrity of the Astromaterials samples has been considered mission critical throughout Stage 3 and has continued without pause. Furthermore, in October of 2020, sample processing and sample allocation activities were approved to resume. Since that time, we have been working to fulfill approved sample requests, but progress has been somewhat slow because the health and safety of everyone in curation remains our top priority. In order to maintain appropriate and safe social distancing protocols in our laboratories, we are not operating in the labs at full capacity. We thank everyone for their continued patience as we work through the pending allocations. I am pleased to report that we have worked through a sufficient portion of the backlog so as to allow new sample requests from both our Lunar and Antarctic Meteorite collections this spring. The due dates for requests for each are listed in their respective newsletter sections. For the collections that accept rolling requests, we have continued to accept those sample requests, and as of October 2020, we resumed processing and allocating those samples where not prohibited by construction activities. We thank you all for your patience and understanding, and we hope that you and your families remain safe and healthy during these times.
CAPTEM transition to ExMAG and AARBThe Curation and Analysis Planning Team for Extraterrestrial Materials (CAPTEM) has been transitioned into the Extraterrestrial Materials Analysis Group (ExMAG) and the Astromaterials Allocation Review Board (AARB). This transition has officially separated the analysis function of CAPTEM (now ExMAG) from the sample request review function of CAPTEM (now AARB). This transition was announced and described in a Town Hall on February 25, 2021. If you were unable to make that town hall or want additional information, you can find it HERE. Any questions about ExMAG should be directed to Barbara Cohen and Hope Ishii, the ExMAG Chair and Vice Chair, respectively. Any questions about the AARB should be directed to Jeff Grossman and myself.
Broad updates for the Astromaterials Acquisition and Curation Office
Construction activities for the Hayabusa2 and OSIRIS-REx curation labs, as well as construction activities related to the upgrade of the ultra-pure water system that will service the new and existing curation labs, have continued throughout the duration of the COVID-19 Pandemic, and construction should be completed soon.
Construction activities related to the upgrade of the air-handling system that supplies air to the Genesis labs, as well as to many of the non-clean-room curation labs (e.g., lunar and meteorite thin section, the X-ray Computed Tomography Lab, and the Imaging Raman Lab), has also continued during the COVID-19 Pandemic. That construction is on track for completion soon.
Thank you for reading the Astromaterials News section of the Astromaterials Newsletter, and I wish you and your families a safe and healthy 2021.