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Kieren Howard

Assistant Professor

Physical Science, Kingsborough Community College
Modal Mineralogy of Carbonaceous Chondrites (bulk & separates) by Position Sensitive Detector X-ray Diffraction

Terrestrial geologists learn how rocks have formed and evolved by analyzing the composition of minerals in a rock sample. With his three-year, $384K NASA award, Modal Mineralogy of Carbonaceous Chondrites (bulk & separates) by Position Sensitive Detector X-ray Diffraction, Professor Howard uses this same research premise to study meteorites. “Accurately quantifying what meteorites are made of helps constrain formation history for planets. I take meteorites samples that have interacted with water in the early solar system and identify their mineralogy, hoping to work out the processes that allowed asteroids to take in volatiles like water and ultimately deliver them to planets like earth.” Traditionally meteorites have been studied with electron microscopy, but the samples Howard works with require a different technique called X-ray diffraction. This technique produces mineral data without a visual picture, providing instead, an exact classification system based on numbers.

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