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 2014 CAPTEM membership changes included the addition of Conel Alexander to Chair the Meteorite Working Group (MWG) subcommittee and Larry Nyquist to Chair the Genesis subcommittee. Julie Gross and Jeff Taylor have joined the Lunar subcommittee. JSC Curation personnel changes include the planned retirement of Carl Allen (Manager of the Astromaterials Acquisition and Curation Office and the Astromaterials Curator) in January, 2015 and departure of David Frank. Cindy Evans is currently Acting Manager of the Astromaterials Acquisition and Curation Office while this supervisory position is competed within JSC. JSC is actively advertising for candidates for the Astromaterials Curator position. New curation employees include Kimberly Aluums-Spencer (Genesis lab) and Wayne Gillespie (IT).

CAPTEM’s Charter is being revised to explicitly explain how each subcommittee reviews and recommends allocations of samples. Revisions will reflect the inclusion of the Meteorite Working Group and the renaming of the “Hayabusa” subcommittee to the “Asteroid” subcommittee.

Findings of an ad hoc Lunar Contamination Cleanliness task force (chaired by Dimitri Papanastassiou) concerned: (1) contamination and heating of samples due to sawing, which might lead to organic contamination and possible loss of volatiles, (2) water absorption and chemisorption on chemically active sample surfaces, and (3) potential miss-orientation of samples during cutting, of interest to paleomagnetic studies. The task force will provide a formal write up prior to the Spring meeting.

Findings from the Informatics subcommittee (chaired by Andrew Westphal) that surveyed past sample requestors of the JSC collections included the need to: (1) focus on small particle catalogs, (2) increase community confidence that each catalog is complete and correct, (3) improve searchability, (4) improve reliability w/ trouble ticket/ tracking, and (5) include PI services that make collections and samples subscribable by RSS feed.

Review of the Asteroid Retrieval Mission by an ad hoc task force (led by Andrew Westphal) emphasized: (1) the assessment of textural and mineralogical heterogeneity of the sample body for site and sample selection, (2) active participation of a ground-based Science Team, (3) hand-held photodocumentation (and other hand-held instruments), (4) contamination control, (5) that collection should include at least 1000 g from two sites, stored separately, (6) mixed opinions for a core sample of regolith, (7) preservation of sample volatiles, (8) measurement of porosity and internal structure of the body, (9) survey of possible active deformation of the body, and (10) no need for an optical albedo study because it has already been done.

Curation requested that CAPTEM make a formal recommendation to NASA headquarters for funds to set up a high resolution, high kV micro-CT facility at JSC. All but one member voted to make acquisition a high priority.

Allocations since last meeting for Antarctic meteorites include 478 samples; for Lunar include 341 samples (plus 388 thin sections); for Cosmic Dust include 67 particles; for Genesis include 9 samples and 7 reference materials; and there was 1 approved allocation for a particle of Asteroid Itokawa-Hayabusa. Samples collected in the 2013/14 ANSMET field season were stranded at McMurdo due to inclement weather and will not be brought to JSC until next season. A volatile organic assessment of the curation facilities (led by Marc Fries) will be initiated to minimize cross contamination among curation facilities.

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

CAPTEM FeedbackNew


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, with the exception of Antarctic meteorites. 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.  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 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.

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 13, 2014