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


NASA Headquarters report (Grossman)  

R&A Programs
Selections for the Emerging Worlds (EW) and LARS programs in ROSES 2016 are expected soon. Proposal pressures to these programs have increased, with EW receiving 156 proposal versus 137 last year, and LARS receiving 28 compared with 18 last year. It was noted that many of the LARS proposals this year were to develop new instruments and techniques in anticipation of returned samples by Hayabusa2 and OSIRIS-REx.

The new three-agency agreement (NASA, NSF and the Smithsonian Institution) covering the ANSMET program has been finalized. It was signed in August, 2016 and will be valid for 10 years.

NASA has asked the NRC for a study on Sample Analysis Future Investment Strategy. The committee will assess:

  • What laboratory analytical capabilities are required to support PSD (and partner) analysis and curation of existing and future extraterrestrial samples?
    • Which of these capabilities currently exist, and where are they located (including international partner facilities)?
    • What existing capabilities are not currently accessible that are or will be needed?
  • Whether the current sample laboratory support infrastructure and NASA’s investment strategy meets the analytical requirements in support of current and future decadal planetary missions.
  • How can NASA ensure that the science community can stay abreast of evolving techniques and to be at the forefront of extraterrestrial sample analysis?

Mission updates
OSIRIS-REx launched successfully on September 8th, 2016 and is expected to return samples in September, 2023. Hayabusa2 is in-flight to its target, asteroid Ryugu. NASA and JAXA will exchange materials from these two missions, with NASA to receive 10% of unprocessed Hayabusa2-returned material within one year and JAXA to receive 0.5% of the OSIRIS-REx-returned sample.

JSC Organizational Report (Evans)
Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) is now a division in the Exploration Integration and Science Directorate (EISD) at JSC. Vanessa Wyche is the new director of EISD, and Cindy Evans has replaced Greg Byrne as the division chief. Francis McCubbin has been named the Chief Scientist for Curation, as well as the Astromaterials Curator, and has been moved to the division level. Ryan Zeigler has been named as the manager of Astromaterials Research Acquisition and Curation Office.

Astromaterials curation/JSC facilities report (McCubbin)

Allocation and Curation highlights
Sample traffic through curation is high; midway through 2016, approximately 950 samples have been allocated. A total of 865 meteorite samples were transferred to the Smithsonian Institution. A total of 215 new meteorites from the ANSMET 2010 – 2014 seasons were announced in the Spring 2016 newsletter. JSC is expecting 569 new meteorites from the 2015-2016 ANSMET mission to the Miller Range. More than 100 items have been curated for OSIRIS-REx Contamination Knowledge.

Mission Support
OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa2: Curation had the 60% and 90% design reviews for OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa2. Construction for both labs will begin in FY 2019.

Mars 2020: Francis McCubbin continues to serve as an ex officio member of the Returned Sample Science Board for Mars 2020. This body has produced a report on the maximum allowable temperature of samples is available on the MEPAG website. Francis is also chairing the Contamination Control and Planetary Protection Working Group (CCPPWG) that was tasked by NASA HQ to determine the implications for sample science resulting from CC and PP practices, and to make findings about any potential problems. Curation will be archiving witness materials and coupons in the near future.

The Educational Disc and Outreach programs have reached thousands of people. Curation held 11 Sample Disk Certification workshops, and one Authorized Trainer trainings since the Spring CAPTEM meeting. In that interval, curation has loaned 360 educational disks (191 lunar / 169 meteorite), along with 111 thin-section packages (17 lunar / 10 meteorite). In addition, 670 Lunar and Mars Soil Simulant sample packs have been loaned to educators, museums and students. There were 29 public outreach events that used curation-supplied displays; these events reached over 6,185 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 Lunar and Meteorite Disk overview video has now been made Section 508 compliant and is posted online.

Curato/Subcommittee reports

Cosmic Dust (Zolensky, Ishii)
The Cosmic Dust Subcommittee thanks Giles Graham and Matthew Genge for their many years of service, and welcomes Susan Taylor and Zahia Djouadi. Hope Ishii is the chair of the Cosmic Dust Subcommittee, and George Flynn has agreed to stay on to preserve continuity. Since March, four requests were received and three were recommended for allocation. The Cosmic Dust database is being upgraded and catalog 20 is in preparation.

Genesis (Allton, Nyquist)
There were 8 requests from 6 investigators. A total of 18 Genesis-flown samples were allocated to 5 PIs and 3 reference material samples were allocated to 2 investigators. There have been new science requests for Br feasibility, Mg fluence and isotopes, sulfur fluence, and cleaning studies.

Asteroid Returned Samples (Zolensky, McKeegan)
One Hayabusa sample allocation was made. The subcommittee needs a new chair to replace Kevin McKeegan, who will be taking over as the CAPTEM chair in January, 2017.

Stardust (Zolensky, Westphal)
In the past 6 months, 3 new requests were received. There is a compendium of publications (148 to date) resulting from Stardust samples on a shared papers domain. Curation has trained a new sample processor, and that has allowed the completion of a sample allocation that had been delayed. The Stardust@Home program has led to spin-off of “microscopy at home”, where Cornell, Princeton, U.C. Berkeley and Human Computation Institute have made imagery of brain tissue in living mice available for citizen scientists. This collaboration could increase the rate at which this research on Alzheimer’s disease can be performed by a factor of 10. 

Lunar Samples (Zeigler, Treiman)
Since the March meeting, 395 samples have been allocated, including 181 thin sections and 214 other samples, bringing the total allocations for 2016 to 843 samples. There were 33 Apollo sample requests (16 curatorial, 17 CAPTEM) for Spring 2016; 11 were approved as received, 6 were approved with modifications, and 0 were denied; in total, 265 of the 455 requested samples were approved for allocation. Two requests from Spring 2015 are still awaiting PI action and four Spring 2016 requests are awaiting PI action. The Thin-Section lab made 27 new thin sections, including 21 new specialty potted butts for SIMS work. A total of 191 educational disks and 16 thin section sets were loaned for K-12 education, 131 tours were given to 999 people including three film crews and Wired Magazine.

The Micro-CT has been purchased, and the large Lunar Thin Section Lab will be renovated to house it. The instrument is expected to be in place and operational around the time of LPSC 2017. The Micro-CT is a Nikon XTH 320 micro-CT system with:
                  • 4 interchangeable x-ray sources (180 kV, 225 kV, 225 kV rotating, 320 kV)
                  • A 2000 pixel, 16-bit detector
                  • Ability to handle large samples (100 kg, 300 mm diameter)
                  • weighs 8000 kg, with dimensions 9’ x 7’ x 6’

A total of 20 new thin-section cases have been constructed to supplement the 8 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.

There was a water leak in Building 31 at JSC. A water supply line to a chiller burst overnight and flooded the new micro CT lab, lunar and meteorite thin section labs, as well as the EIL. The water contained visible rust. No samples were damaged, the water was quickly cleaned up and the area dried. Samples of rust were collected for analysis to determine the composition as a precaution if anomalous results are observed in samples. Remediation efforts to remove rust from underneath and behind cabinetry are in progress and should be complete soon. Leak detectors are being installed to enable early detection of leaks should they occur in the future.

Meteorite Working Group (Righter, Alexander)
Over the past year, 843 samples have been allocated to 75 investigators. There were 44 new requests for meteorite samples since the Spring 2016 MWG meeting, including requests from 5 new PIs. In the Spring 2016 and Fall 2016 newsletters, 434 new meteorites from the 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 field seasons were announced.  A total of 740 samples were transferred to SI. Work on the meteorite database has been completed.

Informatics (Westphal)
The informatics subcommittee has particularly focused on its task to provide ongoing, periodic assessments of external aspects of JSC databases and catalogs. In concordance with this, the subcommittee selected a representative for each collection, and is producing a report on the functionality and content of each collection’s external website. Future work will focus on assessment of data quality and completeness.

PSS Meeting Report (McSween)
McSween gave CAPTEM an update on CAPTEM-relevant findings from the Planetary Science Subcommittee. The PSS was pleased with NASA’s response to community concerns about the support of laboratory facilities. The response included the commissioning of an NRC study to evaluate existing facilities and those that will be needed in the future. The PSS also made a finding that NASA should convene a workshop with subject matter experts to evaluate the Planetary Protection concept of “special regions” on Mars and, in particular, “induced special regions”, stemming from the notion that heat from rovers or other vehicles could create a special region during the course of a mission, with implications for further exploration and sample return.

New business
Jim Green gave CAPTEM an overview of upcoming sample return missions by NASA and other agencies, as well as insight into NASA’s plans to evaluate existing analytical capabilities and prioritize future investments to ensure maximum science return. Efforts by NASA to partner with other space agencies were also discussed.

CAPTEM finding:  CAPTEM advocates that NASA PSD find a mechanism for using PI grant funding to bring foreign investigators to U.S. laboratories for research collaborations.
Background: Given PSD’s focus on community concerns about the support of laboratory facilities and capabilities to perform state-of-the-art analyses on the many returned extraterrestrial samples anticipated during the next decade, more international collaborations at the investigator level would benefit instrument development and be cost effective.

Spring CAPTEM Meeting Schedule (McSween)
The Spring CAPTEM meeting will be held immediately after LPSC, March 25th and 26th, at the LPI. MWG and Lunar allocation meetings will be held on the 24th and 26th, respectively.

CAPTEM Membership rotations as of January 1st (McSween)

  • Thank you Andrew Westphal, Larry Nyquist, and Rhiannon Mayne for your very effective service on CAPTEM!
  • Kevin McKeegan becomes the new CAPTEM chair.
  • Rhonda Stroud has been named as the new Stardust Subcommittee chair.
  • New Subcommittee chairs for Genesis, Asteroids and Informatics are being identified.
  • Nominations or volunteers were sought for CAPTEM facilities contact.

Summary of Action Items (Burton)

CAPTEM will finish filling new appointments to Subcommittee chair positions (Genesis, Asteroids and Informatics).

Francis McCubbin will consider a role for CAPTEM in planning for storage and allocation of Mars 2020 mission witness coupons to be housed at JSC and will provide a briefing at the Spring CAPTEM meeting. 

McSween will ensure the NRC committee reviewing the status of NASA’s analytical facilities relevant to CAPTEM have received the white paper CAPTEM wrote regarding this subject.

CAPTEM will anticipate working with NASA Headquarters on developing an investment strategy for needed future analytical capabilities and facilities.  

Identify a CAPTEM Facilities Contact Person.

CAPTEM Minutes, Fall 2016

CAPTEM Minutes, Spring 2016

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
January 4, 2017