CAPTEM (Curation and Analysis Planning Team for Extraterrestrial Materials)
CAPTEM Home Page
Requesting Lunar Samples
Requesting Meteorite Samples
Requesting Cosmic Dust Samples
Requesting Stardust Samples
Requesting Asteroid (Including Hayabusa) Samples
Requesting Genesis Samples
Summary of CAPTEM Meetings
Astromaterials Curation page at NASA Johnson Space Center
Lunar List Server
Publications and Documents
Public Displays of Apollo Samples
Links of Interest
CAPTEM Analysis
Lunar Sample Acquisition and Curation Review
CAPTEM Internal Link
Mars Sample Return


As of January, 2015, CAPTEM membership changes included the addition of Conel Alexander, James Day (MWG), Juliane Gross (Lunar subcommittee), Kieren Howard (MWG), Rhiannon Mayne (MWG), Kevin McKeegan (Asteroid subcommittee), Jeff Taylor (Lunar) and Allan Treiman (Lunar), along with Aaron Burton as the new Executive Secretary. Also added to the various subcommittees were Will Marchant (Informatics) Michael Pellin (Genesis) Richard Walker (Lunar) Nicolle Zellner (Lunar). Departing CAPTEM and/or subcommittee members were Amy Gaffney, Matthew Genge, Tim Grove, Randy Korotev, Sam Lawrence, Scott Messenger, Justin Simon and Paul Warren. Curation personnel changes included the hiring of Francis McCubbin as the new Astromaterials Curator to replace Carl Allen, starting in June 2015, with Cindy Evans having already been named the manager of the Curation Office.

CAPTEM made two findings at the meeting:

Finding 1: Regarding acquisition and preservation of extraterrestrial samples
The Discovery and New Frontiers missions AO language stating that the mission plan "shall demonstrate that at least 75% of the returned sample shall be preserved for future studies" should apply to all sample return missions, robotic and human. Deviations from this policy must be convincingly justified.

Each NASA institutional scientific collection should have a policy regarding long-term use and curation. The policy should consider the uniqueness of the samples, the expected timescale for loss of sample integrity, definition of whether the policy applies to the entire collection or to individual samples, how much sample should be conserved for future research versus preserved for posterity, and a time period for review of the policy.

Finding 2: Regarding R&A Reorganization
The SMD research program must be aligned to best achieve the NRC Decadal Survey goals. Astromaterials research constitutes a critical component of planetary exploration and answers fundamental questions that cannot be addressed by other means. After the first year of the reorganized R&A structure, it is apparent that solar system sample research has been negatively impacted. CAPTEM is concerned that diminishing astromaterials capabilities will cause long-term harm to SMD's planetary exploration mission and erode U.S. leadership in extraterrestrial materials research.

There is a new top-level policy directive for all NASA science collections that was developed with the Interagency Working Group on Scientific Collections (IWGSC) and Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), which will be managed out of the NASA Office of the Chief Scientist. Detailed instructions for each collection will be written at the center levels.

ARES performed an engineering review and contamination assessment of the Building 31 gaseous nitrogen system in preparation for building of the Hayabusa2 and OSIRIS-REx labs. This included updating as-built engineering drawings for the entire system.

New collections are being implemented using basic framework (OSIRIS-REx, Hayabusa, Hayabusa2). Meteorite testing is near completion. The Lunar Sample and Photo database is being migrated to a javascript application to enable access by mobile devices. A searchable database for the Cosmic Dust collection is under development. The Genesis catalog is being updated. Funding was awarded through the PDART program for Lunar Data Rescue and MoonDB; this will allow researchers to link data to specific samples to make it available for the community.

Overall approved allocation numbers are consistent, with nearly 1,000 samples allocated in 2014. A high number of returned lunar and meteorite samples have now been repatriated. In addition, 2,460 meteorite samples were transferred to the Smithsonian Institution. A total of 409 new meteorites were announced in in the fall 2014 and spring 2015 newsletters. These meteorites were from the 2010 – 2012 ANSMET seasons. Lunar Sample Curator Ryan Zeigler and Astronaut Shannon Walker were part of the most recent ANSMET mission, where ~562 new meteorites were recovered from the Dominion Range.

The Lunar Cleanliness Task Force Report is now finalized. The findings of the report were reviewed and approved by CAPTEM.

Earlier in the meeting, CAPTEM was asked to clarify conflict of interest language in the various charters, using the R&A peer review process as a model. After discussion, the following language was adopted:

CAPTEM Conflict of interest policy

  • The subcommittee discussion should follow the accepted practices of a peer review panel, with the Curator's role analogous to that of the review panel Program Manager. The Curator is responsible for ensuring that the findings are fair and impartial. Another Civil Servant can substitute for a conflicted Curator.
  • A subcommittee member has a conflict if he/she is involved with the proposed work or can be perceived as part of a directly competing project. If the member has some kind of relationship with the proposer or is at the same institution, that should be disclosed and can be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The Curator has the final decision.
  • Allegations of conflict of interest should be adjudicated by the Curator, or appealed to the CAPTEM Chair or NASA DS as needed.

CAPTEM Fall 2014 Summary (PDF)

Feedback or suggestions for how to provide more meaningful feedback to CAPTEM are welcome (see feedback link below).

CAPTEM Feedback


The Curation and Analysis Planning Team for Extraterrestrial Materials (CAPTEM) serves two functions: 1) It is a community-based, interdisciplinary forum for discussion and analysis of matters concerning the collection and curation of extraterrestrial samples, including planning future sample return missions.  In this role, CAPTEM supports human exploration objectives and their implications for architecture planning and activity prioritization for future exploration of planetary surfaces. Findings are provided to NASA through the NASA Advisory Council (NAC).  2) It is a standing review panel, charged with evaluating proposals requesting allocation of all extraterrestrial samples contained in NASA collections. Such proposals are solicited by the Johnson Space Center (JSC) Astromaterials Acquisition and Curation Office. Committee findings are provided to the JSC Curator via the NASA Headquarters discipline scientist (DS) charged with oversight of JSC curation activities.

The Chair of CAPTEM is a member of the Planetary Science Subcommittee of the NAC, and as such is appointed to a three-year term by the NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) in consultation with the NASA Administrator and the Chair of the Planetary Science Subcommittee of the NAC.  In addition to the Chair, CAPTEM will include up to 12 regular, voting members, plus a non-voting Secretary.  Regular CAPTEM members and the Secretary serve 3-year, renewable terms, and are appointed by the Chair, after consultation with the JSC Curator, with concurrence of the Headquarters DS.  A temporary Chair may be appointed by the Chair, in consultation with the Headquarters DS, in the event that the Chair must be absent from a meeting.  The Secretary records the minutes of CAPTEM meetings, maintains the CAPTEM website, and responds to external inquiries.

In its role as a review panel, CAPTEM will form a standing allocation subcommittee for each of the collections of extraterrestrial samples under CAPTEM purview.  The allocation subcommittees will each be chaired by a regular, voting member of CAPTEM, and may contain any number of members, including other CAPTEM members, or experts from outside CAPTEM.  External subcommittee members will be selected by the subcommittee chairs, in consultation with other members of the subcommittee and the CAPTEM Chair, with concurrence of the Headquarters DS, and will serve 3-year, renewable terms. Allocation subcommittees review all requests for sample allocation, and may also do analysis on issues related to curation of their particular collection.  The subcommittee chairs report their findings to CAPTEM.
In its role as an analysis group, CAPTEM may organize ad hoc or standing subcommittees to address specific issues.  The rules for membership in these committees are the same as for allocation subcommittees, except that these committees may be chaired by experts from outside CAPTEM.

CAPTEM will meet semi-annually or as otherwise needed to carry out its functions or at the request of the NAC Chair.

CAPTEM’s ongoing tasks in support of SMD are as follows:

  • provide peer review of requests for extraterrestrial samples;
  • provide technical assessment for all aspects of curation of extraterrestrial materials at Johnson Space Center;
  • act as a resource that can be used by approved NASA sample-return missions;
  • provide input to plans for construction and equipping of appropriate curatorial facilities to prevent contamination with terrestrial materials and potential cross-contamination of extra-terrestrial materials;
  • sponsor workshops and studies relevant to sample return and sample science.

In the performance of these ongoing tasks, CAPTEM will coordinate with the Director of the Planetary Science Division of SMD and the JSC. Additional tasking for CAPTEM activities may be initiated through the NAC Chair from SMD, the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD), the JSC Curation staff, the Committees or Subcommittees of the NAC, or the CAPTEM Chair. Final approval of prioritization and scheduling of requested tasks will be provided by the NAC Chair after consultation with the CAPTEM Chair. Logistical and organizational support to the CAPTEM will be provided through SMD, HEOMD and the Lunar and Planetary Institute.

Appendices to CAPTEM Charter
These describe how each Subcommittee makes its findings.

Asteroid Returned Samples Subcommittee
Cosmic Dust Subcommittee
Facilities Subcommittee
Genesis Subcommittee
Informatics Subcommittee
Lunar Sample Subcommittee
Stardust Subcommittee

Note:  MWG appendix is awaiting three-agency approval.


Apollo 17 orange soil 74220
Apollo 17 troctolite 76535
ALH 84001 carbonate mineral globules
Cosmic Dust Grain
Apollo 17
orange soil 74220
Apollo 17
troctolite 76535
ALH 84001
carbonate mineral globules
Cosmic dust grain

Mars Sample Return

Mars Sample Return


Last updated
August 10, 2015