Dr Caroline Smith

Dr Caroline Smith
  • Collections Manager
  • Earth Sciences department
  • Mineral and Planetary Sciences Division
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road
London
SW7 5BD

Biography

Employment History

2005-present        Curator of Meteorites, Natural History Museum 

2004-2005            PDRA, School of Geography and Earth Sciences, Glasgow University

2002-2004            PDRA, Department of Mineralogy, Natural History Museum

1998-2002            PhD student, PSSRI, The Open University

Qualifications

2003    PhD, Meteoritics, The Open University

1998    BSc (Hons) (2.1) Geology, University of St. Andrews

 

Areas of Responsibility

  • To maintain and manage the Natural History Museum meteorite collection.
  • To carry out conservation of specimens, where necessary and continue to monitor the collection for conservation purposes.
  • Dealing with public, media and scientific enquiries.
  • Identifying and classifying new meteorite samples and managing loans and donations to other scientific institutions.
  • Dealing with new acquisitions to the collection.

Professional Roles

Grants

  • European Space Agency/UK Space Agency Aurora Fellow 'Extraterrestrial Sample Curation - development of sample curation protocols for samples returned from Solar System missions.'
  • CO-I on STFC funded grant ‘Verification of the effects of sterilisation/decontamination procedures on Mars analogue materials’
  • PI on contract develop a feasibility study for a ‘Mars Sample Return Bio-containment Facility’ (ESA ref: AO/1-5534/07/NL/EK)

External collaborations

  • Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow
  • Collaborator with Department of Chemistry, University of Leeds - Phosphorous and astrobiology 
  • Collaborator with University College London - Achondrite meteorites and high-pressure phases

External committees

  • Member of the Ethics Working Group of the Meteoritical Society
  • Secretary of the Nomenclature Committee of the Meteoritical Society
  • Secretary of the Paneth Meteorite Trust (Royal Astronomical Society)
  • Member and Secretary of the Nomenclature Committee of the Meteoritical Society

Fellowships

  • Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society
  • Fellow of the Geological Society

Guest lectures

  • Invited lecturer at Open University Summer School, SXR260

Editorial boards

  • Editor of the Catalogue of Meteorites
  • Associate Editor (Northwest Africa) of the Meteoritical Bulletin

Curation-Research

Research

An X-ray elemental map of the unusual carbonaceous chondrite SAH00182.

This X-ray element map shows the different minerals and textures observed in this meteorite.  The rounded, red objects are chondrules and the blue-green objects are CAIs (Calcium-Aluminium-rich Inclusions). CAIs are believed to represent some of the oldest objects known and date back to the earliest stages of Solar System formation. © Copyright NHM

 

My main research interests are early Solar System processes and the formation and history of primitive chondritic meteorites.  I also carry out research on the achondrite ureilite meteorites, specifically the interaction between carbon-rich material and the silicate phases.

In addition to my work on meteorites, I also continue to collaborate with former colleagues at The University of Glasgow, using innovative electron and ion-beam techniques to investigate the weathering of terrestrial minerals. 

Curation and Collections Management

In my role as Curator of Meteorites my main responsibility is to manage and care for the nearly 2000 meteorites represented in NHM meteorite collection.  I liaise with scientific and curatorial colleagues around the world to organise loans of material from our collection for scientific study and exhibition.  I also represent the Museum in various media and public outreach initiatives regarding meteorites and the scientific study of our Solar System.

 

Special projects

Caroline Smith and Cecilia Satterwhite (NASA) discussing curation of Antarctic Meteorites

The curation facilities at the NASA Johnson Space Center are unrivalled. For us to design a modern facility we meet with colleagues around the world to discuss issues and challenges. © Copyright NHM

I am currently working with both the European and UK Space Agencies planning and preparing for the curation of samples returned to Earth by space missions to Mars and asteroids in the next few decades.  These samples are unique and require a high-level of curation to protect them from potential contamination once they arrive on Earth.  For Martian samples there is the added issue of compliance with international treaties on Planetary Protection - whilst it is extremely unlikely that any Martian material will pose a hazard to Earth, until proven otherwise any Mars samples returned to Earth will need to be curated in a high bio-containment facility. This is an exciting project in which we can share the Museum's expertise and knowledge from ~300 years of meteorite and extraterrestrial sample curation with colleagues from the space, engineering and bio-technology industries and academia.

Curatorial staff

Ms Deborah-Jayne Cassey - Assistant Meteorite Curator

Mrs Sue Lewis - Volunteer

 

Research Students

Supervisor of a NERC (CASE) funded PhD studentship to Aidan Ross in collaboration with University College London.  CASE funding from Mineralogy Department, Natural History Museum.  Topic:  Constraining the composition of the Hadean earth and moon by studying ancient primitive meteorites like ureilites.

Supervisor of a University of Glasgow PhD studentship to Mahmood Sofe.  Topic: The oldest carbonate minerals on Earth: insights into the early history of the Solar System.

Outreach

Media and Public Outreach

A major part of my job as Curator of Meteorites is to tell the fascinating stories of these rocks and how important they are in providing us with evidence of how the Solar System formed and evolved over the last 4.6 billion years. I have given many talks to amateur astronomical and geological societies around the UK and, with colleagues, to schools and university classes. Owing to the fact that meteorites are such an interesting topic I have also carried out a numerous live TV and radio interviews, both to national and international news agencies, the most recent of which was talking about our acquisition of the Tissint Martian meteorite.

Dr Caroline Smith and the Tissint meteorite

 Tissint meteorite acquisition news stories

Publications

Publications
2013
  • Bryant D E, Greenfield D, Walshaw R D, Johnson B R G, Herschy B, SMITH C L, Pasek M, Telford R, Scowen I, Munshi T, Edwards H G M, Cousins C R, Crawford I & Kee T P. ( 2013 ) Hydrothermal modification of the Sikhote-Alin iron meteorite under low pH geothermal environments. A plausibly prebiotic route to activated phosphorus on the early Earth Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 109 : 90 - 112 . Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
  • Lee M R, Tomkinson T, Mark D F, Stuart F M & SMITH C L ( 2013 ) Evidence for silicate dissolution on Mars from the Nakhla meteorite Meteoritics and Planetary Science 48 : 224 - 240 . 10.1111/maps.12053
  • Tomkinson T, Lee M R, Mark D F & SMITH C L ( 2013 ) Sequestration of Martian CO2 by mineral carbonation Nature Communications 4 : 2662 . 10.1038/ncomms3662
2012
  • Beaty D.W., Kminek G., Allwood A.C., Arvidson R., Borg L.E., Farmer J. D., Goesmann F., Grant J. A., Hauber E., Murchie S.L., Ori G.G., Ruff S. W., Rull F., Sephton M. A., Sherwood Lollar B., SMITH C. L., Westall F., Pacros A.E., Wilson M.G., Meyer M.A., Vago J.L., Bass D.S., Joudrier L., Laubach S., Feldman S., Trautner R., Milkovich S.M. ( 2012 ) 93 pp. posted March, 2012, by the Mars Exploration Analysis Group (MEPAG) . Report of the 2018 Joint Mars Rover Mission Joint Science Working Group (JSWG)
  • Chennaoui Aoudjehane H, Avice G, Barrat J-A, Boudouma O, Chen G, Duke M J M, Franchi I A, Gattacecca J, Grady M M, Greenwood R C, Herd C D K, Hewins R, Jambon A, Marty B, Rochette P, SMITH C L, Sautter V, Verchovsky A, Weber P & Zanda B ( 2012 ) Tissint Martian Meteorite: A Fresh Look at the Interior, Surface and Atmosphere of Mars Science 338 : 785 - 788 . 10.1126/science.1224514
2011
  • Ross A J, Steele A, Fries M D, Kater L, Downes H, Jones A P, Smith C L, Jenniskens P M, Zolensky M E and Shaddad M H. ( 2011 ) MicroRaman spectroscopy of diamond and graphite in Almahata Sitta and comparison with other ureilites.
    Meteoritics and Planetary Science 46 : 364-378 . 10.1111/j.1945-5100.2010.01157.x
2010
  • Weisberg M K, SMITH C, Benedix G, Herd C D K, Righter K, Haack H, Yamaguchi A, Chennaoui Aoudjehane H C and Grossman J N. ( 2010 ) The Meteoritical Bulletin, No. 97. Meteoritics and Planetary Science 45 : 449-493 . Meteoritics and Planetary Science
  • Weisberg M K, SMITH C, Herd C, Haack H, Yamaguchi A, Chennaoui Aoudjehane H, Welzenbach L and Grossman J N. ( 2010 ) The Meteoritical Bulletin, No. 98, September 2010. Meteoritics and Planetary Science 45 : 1530-1551 . Meteoritics and Planetary Science
2009
  • Bryant D E, Greenfield D, Walshaw R D, Evans S M, Nimmo A E, SMITH C L, Wang L, Pasek M A and Kee TP ( 2009 ) Electrochemical studies of iron meteorites: phosphorus redox chemistry on the early Earth International Journal of Astrobiology 8 : 27-36 . doi:10.1017/S1473550408004345
  • Caroline SMITH, Sara Russell and Gretchen Benedix ( 2009 ) Meteorites . The Natural History Museum, London . Meteorites
  • Weisberg M K, SMITH C, Benedix G, Herd C D K, Righter K, Haack H, Yamaguchi A, Chennaoui Aoudjehane H and Grossman J N. ( 2009 ) The Meteoritical Bulletin, No. 96. September 2009. Meteoritics and Planetary Science 44 : 1355-1397 . Meteoritics and Planetary Science
  • Weisberg M. K., SMITH C., Benedix G., Folco L., Righter K., Zipfel J., Yamaguchi A., and Chennaoui Aoudjehane H. ( 2009 ) The Meteoritical Bulletin, No. 95 Meteoritics & Planetary Science 44 : 429-462 . Meteoritics & Planetary Science
2008
  • Connolly H C, SMITH C, BENEDIX G K, Folco L, Righter K, Zipfel J, Yamaguchi A and Chennaoui Aoudjehane H ( 2008 ) The Meteoritical Bulletin, No. 93, 2008 March Meteoritics and Planetary Science 43 : 571-632 .
  • Lee M R, Hodson M E, Brown D J, MacKenzie M and SMITH C L ( 2008 ) The composition and crystallinity of the near-surface regions of weathered alkali feldspars. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 72 : 4962-4975 . doi:10.1016/j.gca.2008.08.001
  • Weisberg M. K., SMITH C., Benedix G., Folco L., Righter K., Zipfel J., Yamaguchi A. and H Chennaoui Aoudjehane ( 2008 ) The Meteoritical Bulletin, No. 94, September 2008 Meteoritics and Planetary Science 43 . Meteoritics and Planetary Science
2007
  • Connolly H C, SMITH C, BENEDIX G K, Folco L, Righter K, Zipfel J, Yamaguchi A and Chennaoui Aoudjehane H ( 2007 ) The Meteoritical Bulletin, No. 92, 2007 September Meteoritics and Planetary Science 42 : 1647-1694 .
  • Connolly H C, Zipfel J, Folco L, SMITH C, Jones R H, BENEDIX G K, Righter K, Yamaguchi A, Chennaoui Aoudjehane H and Grossman J N ( 2007 ) The Meteoritical Bulletin, No. 91, 2007 March Meteoritics and Planetary Science 42 : 413-466 .
  • Lee M R, Brown D J, SMITH C L, Hodson M E, MacKenzie M and Hellman R ( 2007 ) Characterisation of mineral surfaces using FIB and TEM: A case study of naturally-weathered alkali feldspars American Mineralogist 92 : 1383-1394 .
2006
  • Connolly H C, Zipfel J, Grossman J N, Folco L, SMITH C, Jones R H, Righter K, Zolensky M, RUSSELL S S, BENEDIX G K, Yamaguchi A and Cohen B ( 2006 ) The Meteoritical Bulletin, No. 90, 2006 September Meteoritics and Planetary Science 41 : 1383-1418 .
  • Lee M R and SMITH C L ( 2006 ) Scanning transmission electron microscopy using a SEM: Applications to mineralogy and petrology Mineralogical Magazine 70 : 579-590 .
  • Lee M R, SMITH C L, Gordon S H and Hodson M E ( 2006 ) Laboratory simulation of terrestrial meteorite weathering using the Bensour (LL6) ordinary chondrite Meteoritics & Planetary Science 41 : 1123-1138 .
  • SMITH C L, Lee M R, MacKenzie M and Hodson M E ( 2006 ) New opportunities for nanomineralogy using FIB, STEM/EDX and TEM Microscopy and Analysis 111 (UK Edition) : 17-20 .
2004
  • SMITH C L, RUSSEL S S, GOUNELLE M, Greenwood R C and Franchi I A ( 2004 ) NWA 1152 and Sahara 00182: New carbonaceous chondrites with affinities to the CR and CV groups. Meteoritics and Planetary Science 39 : 2009-2032 .