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 welcomed new members Hope Ishii and Devin Schrader.

Kevin McKeegan has been selected as the new CAPTEM Chair, effective January 1, 2017.

Headquarters report:  The overall R&A budget was similar to last year, but costs of individual proposals have risen. In some programs increases have gone up more than 10%, which increases selection pressure. The PME budget is currently on hold, but may be resolved soon. LARS has a reasonable budget of $6.9M; last year 8 of 18 proposals were selected. Emerging Worlds is getting the same amount of money as last year, when it had a 21% selection rate. Hayabusa2 participating scientist selections were made, including 3 sample scientists and 6 instrument scientists. Proposals submitted to ROSES 2015 had a new requirement to include a data management plan for nearly all of the programs. For ROSES 2016, the data management plans have been expanded to two pages that will be included in the body of the proposal but will not count against the 15 page limit. Most of the proposal deadlines are similar to ROSES 2015, with the exception that Solar System Workings has been merged to a single deadline in February, rather than the split deadlines that were used last year.

ARES report:  Sample traffic through curation is high; midway through 2016, approximately 950 samples have been allocated. A large number of samples are being returned from PIs as well. 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. There have been nearly 800 shipments of educational materials, and outreach events have reached more than 5000 people.

So far, 108 OSIRIS-REx spacecraft materials have been archived from the spacecraft in the Microparticle Impact Curation Lab. A total of 12 contamination knowledge witness plates have been deployed during ATLO (March 2015 to present). These will be curated at JSC and deployments will continue at KSC up until launch. Cleanroom requirements have been defined for companies to make bids to design the cleanrooms for both OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa2. The designs are on schedule to be completed in September and will include 30%, 60%, and 90% reviews. OSIRIS-REx science team meetings were held in Pasadena (March 2015), Maryland (October 2015) and Tucson (March 2016).  Curation is archiving and documenting materials from the spacecraft, and cleaning and deploying witness plates for construction phases. Curation is also contracting for the lab designs for OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa2 curation labs. Keiko Nakamura-Messenger is coordinating with the JAXA curation team about curation of Hayabusa2 samples.

Curation held 26 Sample Disk Certification workshops, and four Authorized Trainer trainings in FY16 to date. For FY16 so far, curation has loaned 375 educational disks (206 lunar / 169 meteorite), along with 27 thin-section packages (17 lunar / 10 meteorite). In addition, 382 Lunar and Mars Soil Simulant sample packs have been loaned to educators, museums and students. There were 9 public outreach events that used curation-supplied displays; these events reached over 5,000 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.

Curation is continuing work on improving its online databases. There is a new lunar sample photo database online that is accessible by mobile devices. A searchable database is being developed for cosmic dust. The Genesis catalog has been updated with concentrator target, gold foil and polished aluminum samples. All forms and documents have been updated for the Microparticle Impact Collection. The Stardust database is in the process of migrating to a new website that is not dependent on Flash. More than 1500 peer-reviewed references, from 1978 to present, have been appended to their appropriate meteorites in the Antarctic meteorites database.

An effort is underway to digitize the curation archives. A number of forms have been filled out by principal investigators over many years. These constitute a valuable research tool for the curation staff; however, 98% of the forms are handwritten and are not easily searchable.

ANSMET agreement:  CAPTEM was briefed on progress on the new three-agency agreement between NASA (Jeff Grossman), the National Science Foundation (Scott Borg), and the Smithsonian Institution (Tim McCoy). The agreement has not been updated since 1980, so there is a need to modernize the agreement and update the language to ensure it is consistent with federal laws and policies. The updated agreement language has been agreed upon in principle, and is undergoing final review. The new agreement is similar in both language and spirit to the original. It has been requested that the agreement be valid for 10 years, but there may be a requirement to review it in 5 years.

MWG report:  Over the past year, 757 samples have been allocated to 79 investigators, with 443 of those samples going to 45 investigators over the last 6 months, and there were 43 new requests for meteorite samples for the Spring 2016 MWG meeting. In the Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 newsletters, 261 new meteorites were announced.  A total of 865 samples have been transferred to SI. In the 2015-2016 field season, ~569 new meteorite samples were collected in the Miller Range; these will be returned to Houston in Spring 2016. Work on the meteorite database is ongoing, and more than 1500 peer-reviewed papers, from 1978 to present, have been linked to specific U.S. Antarctic meteorite samples.

Stardust report:  In the past 6 months, 25 samples have been allocated or re-allocated to 4 PIs, and 4 sample requests have been received. So far, 48 out of 124 tiles have been removed from the Stardust cometary tray; 14 of these are at White Sands Test Facility. New personnel are being trained in cell removal to preserve skills. It was noted that the curation facility in WSTF may be running out of room, and NASA is considering this in their facility planning. About ¾ of the Stardust cells have been scanned, and in this process 3D movies are being made. The movies are put online and the presence of particles / features is being reported by citizen scientists through the Stardust@home project, which was inspired by SETI. A new project called “foils@home” has been started to enable citizen scientists to search for impact features in the foils that line the cells in the Stardust collector trays.

Cosmic Dust report:  A total of 20 cosmic dust particles were allocated to 2 groups in the past 6 months, and 2 new sample requests have been received. The collectors are currently flying on ER2 and WB57 aircraft, though there have been few flights in the past 6 months. New collectors based on carbon nanotubes and polyurethane foam are also being flown to help alleviate contamination from silicon oil. The Cosmic Dust database is being upgraded and catalog 20 is in preparation. There are two new proposed methods for surface airborne particle collection; these involve passing high volumes of air through a filter to collect and concentrate the particles.

Asteroid Samples report:  No sample asteroid sample allocations have been made in the past 6 months, though one allocation is in progress and one request is under review. The next allotment of samples from JAXA to NASA will probably occurring in April. JAXA has been pre-characterizing samples, but they will begin allocating uncharacterized samples to NASA, which should speed up the process. NASA currently has 25 of the 1,000 particles they expect to receive. The subcommittee will need a new chair to replace Kevin McKeegan, who will be taking over as the CAPTEM chair in January, 2017.

Genesis report:  There were 6 sample requests, and 9 Genesis-flown samples were allocated to 4 PIs. There was also 1 request and 2 reference materials were allocated to 1 PI. To date, 597 Genesis-flown materials and 329 reference materials have been allocated. In total, there are 4,260 samples at JSC, 53 at WSTF, and 219 samples are with investigators. The Genesis-flown sample database has been modified to accommodate non-collector canister hardware. A total of 191 canister hardware samples have been added to the sample database; these materials will be characterized, and a subset will be selected for posting online.

Informatics report:  The informatics subcommittee determined that use of the PDS for curation data is premature for a variety of reasons. However, the informatics subcommittee recognized “the need to make data collected using public funds publicly accessible…. The emerging requirement by journals to include data, data products and analysis procedures or code, and include these in the review process, is a step toward and addresses many of the issues [raised in the RFI].” In response to the questions of whether or not research data should be included in the PDS, and if so whether or not there should be a requirement that data going into the PDS should undergo peer review, CAPTEM evaluated and approved the statement that “Data put on the PDS should be restricted to data that has been peer reviewed.”

The informatics subcommittee re-evaluated its charter and proposed to focus on three items for the next 2 years:

  • To represent the PI community in the development of external requirements for the JSC databases and catalogs
  • To provide ongoing, periodic assessments of external aspects of JSC databases and catalogs
  • To provide findings to JSC Curation on the capability and sustainability of current informatics technology as applied to collections

The chair of each subcommittee will work with an informatics representative from each collection to perform annual assessments of the quality and thoroughness of the data available for a small number of representative samples of each collection.

Lunar Sample report:  Since October 1st, 2015, 448 Apollo samples have been allocated. In order to more accurately count allocations, samples that are allocated but analyzed at JSC without leaving the building are now being allocated and then unallocated when the analyses are complete (these were not counted as allocations previously). There were 18 Apollo sample requests for Spring 2016; 6 were approved as is, 9 were approved with modifications, and 3 were denied; in total, ~336 of the 535 requested samples were approved for allocation. About 40% of allocations are going to foreign PIs and about 20% of samples are going to new PIs (defined as investigators without existing loan agreements in their names). A total of ~3,500 samples are in the process of being re-accessioned. All 122 lunar PIs are current on their loan agreements. This summer JSC will perform the bi-annual lunar sample location inventory with JSC security.

The MoonDB is a quality-controlled data system to preserve, digitize, and curate lunar geochemical and petrological data and associated sample and analytical metadata. The project is led by Kerstin Lehnert of IEDA (at Lamont Doherty) and funded through NASA’s PDART program. JSC curation is providing sample numbers, sample collection/processing metadata, and sample lithologies. Data from the first ~400 references has been ingested, with many more to come (using lunar compendia as ref. source). The project is also working with lunar PIs to get unpublished (but vetted) data to be included as well. The data interface is under construction with PetDB serving as the template. There will be a workshop and poster (abstract #2738) during LPSC.

Hayabusa report:  Dr. Yurimoto Hisayoshi (Hokkaido University) presented an overview of JAXA curation, including the Hayabusa and Hayabusa2 missions. Currently, sample requests can be made anytime, and requests are reviewed on demand. The curation staff consists of 1 curator, 2 assistant curators, and 2 technicians. Available facilities include a clean chamber, FESEM/EDS (x2), micro-Raman, micro IR, XRD, FIB, ultramicrotome, TEM/EDS instruments.

Hayabusa2, currently in flight to type-C asteroid Ryugu, will rendezvous in 2018 and return >1 g of sample from each of three locations in 2020. The mission will collect two surface samples and one interior sample. It is expected that there will be an international AO in 2022 for requests of the returned samples.

Microparticle Impact Collection (MIC) Lab report:  The MIC lab curates space-exposed surfaces that contain impacts from IDPs or space debris and associated materials that could have contaminated these surfaces. Curatable items are those that contain microparticle impact features. The MIC lab website provides a portal to space hardware that is part of mission collections, e.g. Genesis, as well as loan agreements, an investigator handbook, and necessary forms.

PSS report:  McSween updated CAPTEM on relevant activities of the Planetary Science Subcommittee (PSS):

  • The addition of Ocean Worlds to the approved New Frontiers mission targets has raised considerable concern in the community. In particular, some feel that it is unclear whether or not it is fair to add targets outside of the Decadal Survey and mid-course correction processes. The possibility of a future liquid/gas returned sample from an Ocean Worlds mission should be considered by JSC.
  • The National Research Council is reviewing the effects of PSD’s R&A reorganization. A report is expected in December 2016.
  • There is continuing concern in the planetary science community about the perceived underfunding of laboratories. To more accurately determine the magnitude of this issue and whether critical areas of research are being compromised, the PSS has set up an online survey about funding of laboratories:
  • The Analysis Groups (AGs) are getting together to write a white paper on the importance of having participating scientists in missions. CAPTEM will participate in this effort.

McKeegan proposed a statement on increased cooperation between NASA and JAXA on OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa2 “CAPTEM notes the improved procedures and the increasingly excellent working relationship between NASA and JAXA in sharing returned samples from primitive solar system bodies, and encourages future agency support for exchange of participating scientists and curatorial knowledge.” The motion was moved and approved unanimously.

The next CAPTEM meeting (virtual) will be held in the fall (TBD).

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
May 17, 2016