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Martian Carbon and Friends

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

This seminar amounts to a lively jaunt around the Solar System, the carbonaceous phases found on Mars, in cometary material collected by the NASA Stardust probe, light carbon compounds preserved in halite from the Monahans meteorite, and where each lies in the greater picture of Solar System formation. Recent results will be presented that show the nature and provenance of macromolecular carbon (MMC) in martian meteorites and what it tells us about the evolution of that planet. MMC in Stardust reveals a picture of the early exchange of material between asteroids and comets. The new discovery of halogenated, ancient methane in Monahans halite will be discussed as well, in terms of where the halite came from (not Monahans!). The possibility exists that this material is a unique sample of Ceres or a Ceres-like body. And finally, weather radar data showing the recent carbonaceous chondrite fall at Sutter’s Mill, California will be presented. Weather radar data was instrumental in rapidly locating that fall and providing samples of this rare meteorite fall for scientific study.

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