Dr. Cyrena A. Goodrich
Senior Staff Scientist
Dr. Cyrena Goodrich studies the petrology, geochemistry, and isotope geochemistry of meteorites in order to understand the early evolution of the Solar System. She is focused on unique carbonaceous chondrites, which represent some of the most primitive materials in the solar system, as well as primitive achondrites, which represent asteroids that experienced the early stages of geologic processing.
Selected Current Research Projects:
Asteroid 2008 TC3 and the Almahata Sitta Meteorite: The Almahata Sitta meteorite fell in 2008 when asteroid 2008 shattered over the desert of Northern Sudan. 2008 TC3 was the first Near-Earth Object to be detected before it impacted Earth, which made it a milestone in planetary protection. Almahata Sitta, a collection of >600 cm-sized stones, is the first meteorite to be derived from an asteroid that had been tracked and studied in space before impact. Dr. Goodrich is leading a team of diverse experts that include meteorite petrologists and geochemists, spectroscopists, meteor astronomers, and physicists to study the University of Khartoum (Sudan) collection of Almahata Sitta stones, which is curated by team member Professor Muawia Shaddad. They are using the analyzed properties of the stones, combined with pre-impact observations of the asteroid, to understand the composition, structure, fragmentation behavior, and origin of this asteroid.
Goodrich C.A., Zolensky M., Fioretti A.M., Shaddad M.H., Downes H., Hiroi T., Kohl I., Young E., Kita N., Hamilton V.E., Riebe M., Busemann H., Macke R.J., Ross D.K. and Jenniskens P. (2019) The First Samples from Almahata Sitta Showing Contacts Between Ureilitic and Chondritic Lithologies: Implications for the Structure and Composition of Asteroid 2008 TC3. Submitted to Meteoritics and Planetary Science, February 2019.
Xenoliths in Meteoritic Breccias: Some meteorites are breccias (rocks that consist of broken fragments of other rocks welded together) that represent the regolith, or outermost layers, as an asteroid, where numerous impacts of other bodies caused shattering and extensive “gardening” of the debris. Some of the rock fragments in this debris include pieces of the impactors. Dr. Goodrich studies the mineralogy, petrology, and geochemical properties of these foreign fragments, known as xenoliths, to reveal chemical and isotopic properties of early solar system materials that may not be represented by known meteorite types.
Goodrich C.A., Zolensky M., Kohl I., Young E.D., Yin Q.-Z., Sanborn M.E. and Shaddad M.H. (2019) Carbonaceous chondrite-like xenoliths in polymict ureilites: A large variety of unique outer solar system materials. Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 50, abstract #1312.