The Spanish Fireball and Meteorite Recovery Network (SPMN-CSIC)
The SPMN is a multidisciplinary research project and professional amateur collaboration (proam) that seeks to promote the study of interplanetary matter in Spain. The Institute of Space Sciences (ICE-CSIC) coordinates the meteor and fireball detection cameras of professional and amateur observatories in order to estimate the origin of the rocks in the Solar System that produce such luminous phenomena. From time to time we also recover meteorites from them.
What do we do?
Recovery, characterization and studies of meteorites
We study meteorites in our ICE clean laboratory using diverse analytical techniques of electron and X-ray microscopy, as well as we perform chemical and mineralogical analyses, as we are expert in the characterization of new meteorites. Some of the common techniques used by our group so far are:
- Petrographic and polarization microscopy (thin sections’ integral mapping)
- UV to NIR spectroscopy of meteorites under low vacuum to infer the reflectance properties of meteorites and being able to compare them with their parent bodies in space.
- Scanning Electron Microscopy and Energy Dispersive X-ray microscopy (SEM-DRX) of meteorite thin sections to characterize the main mineralogy of the samples
- Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) to study specific minerals, and infer the processes leading to their formation in space, or in their parent bodies.
- Raman spectroscopy to study and characterize shocked minerals in meteorites.
- X-ray Diffraction (XRD) of meteorite powders to identify the main-rock forming minerals.
- Reflectance spectroscopy using Shimadzu UV-3600 spectrometer, and IR ATR spectrometer
- Inductively Coupled Plasma Atomic Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-AES) and Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) to infer the bulk elemental composition of meteorites and returned samples
In addition, the Group of Meteorites, Minor Bodies and Planetary Sciences at the Institute of Space Sciences (ICE-CSIC) verifies for free if a particular has found a rock that reminds a possible meteorite. In fact, we revise about one hundred rocks every year, confirming in a few cases and denying in many others, their extraterrestrial nature. From our SPMN-CSIC network we have led and promoted the recovery of new meteorites in Spain and Latin America. In fact, we have given name to the latest meteorite falls in Spain (Ardón, Puerto Lápice, Traspena and Villalbeto de la Peña) as well as other meteorites fallen in Latin America such as, for example, in Argentina (Berduc), and Colombia (Cali). More details on the Meteorites and Sample Return Laboratory at ICE-CSIC in our GrowKudos homepage.
Where are we?
Besides the stations operated by the professional members of the SPMN network, amateur collaborators have joined the network throughout the years while contributing to monitor the sky of the Iberian Peninsula from their own stations. They support the infrastructure created by the network for the detection of meteoric events and, in fact, demonstrate why our network pioneered proam participation. Through an email list installed in Red Iris, the members involved share the pictures obtained and everyone learns the methodology and know-how required to control the sky over the Iberian Peninsula. This is how they actively contribute to expanding our network coverage while learning from the experts. As a result of a disinterested collaboration, they see their contribution recognized in internationally refereed publications. You can find below the complete list of observers currently collaborating on this project.
Meet the researchers involved in the study of fireballs and the characterization of new meteorites.
Josep M. Trigo-Rodríguez
Eloy Peña Asensio