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Primitive Materials

Primitive materials are those least modified by the processes by which the initial solar nebula evolved into the present solar system. As surviving remnants of the nebula, they include chondritic meteorites, cosmic and interplanetary dust particles, and cometary material sampled both in Earth's stratosphere and by the Stardust sample return mission. These materials are studied in state-of-the-art analytical laboratories using Mass Spectrometry and a range of electron- and ion-beam instrumentation.

Research Groups

Messenger Research Group
The Messenger Research Group studies the isotopic and chemical compositions of primitive astromaterials, including comet samples returned by the Stardust spacecraft, interplanetary dust particles, presolar grains, primitive meteorites, and lunar samples.
Keller Research Group
The Keller Research Group studies the mineralogy and chemistry of presolar and early solar system materials preserved in cometary particles and contemporary comet and interstellar samples that were collected and returned to Earth by the Stardust mission.
Simon Research Group
The Simon Research Group measures a wide variety of elements and their isotopes to understand the origin of our solar system, the processes that transformed nebular dust and gas into the building blocks of planets, and planet formation.