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
SMD PSD Nuggets


CAPTEM will review the following two issues prior to the Spring 2016 meeting:

(1) Consider how to define the space-exposed hardware collection, particularly: i) what properties make a piece of space-exposed hardware curatable; ii) who makes the decision on what is or is not curatable, and iii) when is the decision made of whether or not something should be included in the collection (JSC, Taylor, Grossman).

(2) Consider scientific data management standards for the sample analysis community (Westphal).

In curation, overall, approved allocation numbers are up since a low point in 2014. A high number of returned lunar and meteorite samples have now been repatriated. In addition, 636 meteorite samples were transferred to the Smithsonian Institution. A total of 169 new meteorites were announced in in the Spring and Fall 2015 newsletters. These meteorites were from the 2010 – 2013 ANSMET seasons. A total of 895 meteorites were returned from the 2013 and 2014 ANSMET seasons, with 335 and 560 meteorites collected each season, respectively. Cindy Evans will be participating in the next ANSMET mission in November. The Educational Disc and Outreach programs have reached thousands of people. Curation held 10 Sample Disk Certification workshops, and four Authorized Trainer trainings in FY15. For FY cumulatively, curation has loaned 927 educational disks (523 lunar / 404 meteorite), along with 49 thin-section packages (26 lunar / 23 meteorite). In addition, 556 Lunar and Mars Soil Simulant sample packs have been loaned to educators, museums and students. There were 12 public outreach events that used curation-supplied displays; these events reached over 3,968 people. In addition, many of the Astromaterials samples/collections have been featured on various social media sites including the ARES blog,, Facebook (NASA ARES), Twitter, and Instagram.

The Cosmic Dust subcommittee reported that there are no outstanding requests from the Cosmic Dust collection. Mike Zolensky reported that curation has been searching for a replacement for Freon as a cleaning agent; they have until December to decide. George Flynn reported on the successful analysis by Messenger et al. (2015) of pristine cosmic dust particles obtained with the oil-free, polyurethane foam substrate collector. Although there remain unanswered questions about the efficiency of the oil-free collectors and the ability to find individual particles, this technique offers a way to collect particles without exposing them to silicone oil contamination that interfered with several desired measurements. At the very least, it seems like a viable complementary method to the oil-based collectors going forward.

In the Genesis collection, there is one pending request that requires additional input from the PI. The laser subdivision capability is currently unavailable for multiple reasons, including age of the instrument (it is no longer supported by the vendor), and the laser lab is being moved temporarily to permit installation of the micro CT scanner. There are currently no subdivision tasks in the queue, although laser subdivision may be required for SiC and 13-C CVD targets. Options going forward include: repairing the existing laser scribe, acquiring a newer instrument (which would lower operating costs), outsourcing specific subdivision tasks, or sharing samples sequentially without subdivision as was done for oxygen, nitrogen and neon measurements.

The Asteroid Returned Samples subcommittee reported that JSC will receive another five Itokawa particles from the Hayabusa mission. All particles received to date have undergone PET. There is one pending request for a Hayabusa sample that is still waiting for additional information from the PI.

In the Stardust collection, it was reported that there were four new sample requests for this meeting of the Stardust subcommittee, as well as two sample requests that are pending (for three months and two months respectively). The first one is being processed, after which the second will be completed. To date, there have been 141+ refereed publications; these are compiled in a Papers compendium. There was a Stardust Workshop immediately before the 2015 MetSoc conference in Berkeley, CA. The workshop included 32 talks and 5 posters. Attendees of the workshop are working on a white paper focused on unsolved problems in planetary science that can be addressed by analyses of Stardust samples, with emphasis on instrumentation and sample preparation technique development. The meeting was supported by a grant from NASA, and CAPTEM was a sponsor of this meeting. There is also a working group with 21 members considering a book or special issue of Meteoritics & Planetary Science.

For the Lunar Sample subcommittee, 343 Apollo samples have been allocated since LPSC. Four sample allocations are on hold, pending PI feedback and visits. The thin section lab has made 11 new thin sections, cleaned 750, repaired 160, and rounded four thin sections. A total of ~1,250 samples have been returned, and 669 samples were processed in. The Lunar lab has given 57 inside tours for 259 people and 51 viewing area tours for 669 people. In addition, 13 thin section sets and 162 disk allocations for outreach were made. At the most recent Lunar Sample Subcommittee meeting, a total of 30 new requests for 391 Apollo samples were made; 323 new Apollo samples were approved. There was some discussion of making lunar reference powders and changing the 50% (by mass) sample reserve policy for Apollo samples. These items will be revisited at the Spring CAPTEM meeting. Renovations on the new Micro-CT lab will begin in early January, and should be completed by late Spring. Solicitation of official bids for the Micro CT will occur soon, and the instrument is expected to be delivered by early summer. A total of 20 new thin-section cases have been constructed to supplement the eight existing thin-section cases. As the existing thin-sections are moved into the new cases, each sample will be macroscopically photographed to ensure a consistent photographic record of all existing lunar thin sections. These images will be included with information about their respective samples in the Apollo sample database.

In news from the Meteorite Working Group, at the Fall MWG meeting, there were 38 new requests. A total of 593 samples were allocated to 75 investigators. There is one request that is still pending, as the PI requested that allocation be delayed. A total of 169 new meteorites from the 2010 – 2013 ANSMET field seasons were published in the Spring and Fall 2015 newsletters. Also, 636 samples were transferred to the Smithsonian Institution. Staging of the 2014-2015 ANSMET samples from the Dominion Range will begin this fall. The annual meteorite inventory is in progress. A new freezer was purchased for the meteorite processing laboratory. It was installed in August is working well. A new cabinet was purchased to address expansion needs. Custom modifications have been completed and the cabinet will be installed soon. The meteorite database is nearing completion and is undergoing final testing. Mitch Haller left the meteorite processing lab in August to start graduate school at the University of Maryland. Rachel Funk started as a new meteorite processor in August. She earned her Master's degree at the University of Houston studying LAR shergottites. Julie Hoskin is the new Collections Manager at the Smithsonian Institution, replacing Linda Welzenbach.

The Informatics subcommittee is evaluating different methods for making data publicly available, including the Planetary Data System. In addition, they are evaluating requirements on proprietary data. These issues will be revisited at the Spring CAPTEM meeting.

From the Facilities subcommittee, there were no new facilities issues to report. However, Dimitri Papanastassiou is leaving the facilities subcommittee. A replacement has yet to be identified, but one is expected to be selected before the Spring CAPTEM meeting.

CAPTEM discussed a protocol for the review of space-exposed hardware requests. The protocol was approved by unanimous vote, pending minor grammatical edits. Once these edits have been made, the approved language will be added to the CAPTEM charter.

The Spring 2016 CAPTEM meeting will be held at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas on Saturday, March 20, 2016, immediately prior the Lunar and Planetary Science
Conference. The Lunar Subcommittee will meet on Friday before at the LPI, and the MWG will meet on Sunday before at the LPI.

CAPTEM thanks George Flynn and Dimitri Papanastassiou for their long service on CAPTEM. Dimitri will continue to serve as a member of the Lunar and Genesis subcommittees. CAPTEM also thanks Kieren Howard for his service on MWG and CAPTEM. Replacements for Flynn (Hope Ishii), Papanastassiou (TBD) and Howard (Devin Schrader) will begin in January of 2016. CAPTEM also discussed nominations for CAPTEM chair to begin serving in January, 2017, and McSween will send out electronic votes to CAPTEM members and JSC curators.

CAPTEM Minutes, October 26, 2015

CAPTEM Spring 2015 Summary (PDF)

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

MWG Charter


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
November 16, 2015