An important part of my work involves analysis of meteorite samples with the aim of understanding their geochemical diversity. This is broadly the field of meteorite classification and is an essential first step in attempting to investigate early Solar System processes.
It might not look very high tech, but the petrographic microscope remains an essential tool in meteorite classification studies.
Open University’s Cameca SX100
The next stage is to undertake quanitative mineral analysis using either the Open University’s Cameca SX100 or the Quanta FIB-SEM.
Open University’s Quanta FIB-SEM
However, it is not always possible to characterise a meteorite using just mineralogy and petrography. Oxygen isotope analysis has proved to be an important technique in classifying extraterrestrial materials.
Open University oxygen isotope laboratory.
The oxygen isotope composition of HEDs, angrites and anomalous HED meteorites
The above oxygen isotope diagram is a good example of how high precision laser fluorination analysis can help to decipher the origin of meteorites which otherwise have quite similar geochemical characteristics.