Phases in the martian meteorite Chassigny

Elucidating the phases in the martian meteorite Chassigny: Revealing melt inclusions and different minerals of deep volcanic rock in the meterorite. © Natasha Almeida

Principal Investigator

Prof Sara Russell

Project summary

  • Focus: Planetary Science
  • Funding: Horizon 2020

Europlanet aims to address key scientific and technological challenges facing modern planetary science.

The Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) provides free access to the world’s largest collection of planetary simulation and analysis facilities, data services and tools, a ground-based observational network and programme of community support activities.

Using the petrology-mineralogy characterisation facility

The Mineral and Planetary Sciences Division at the Natural History Museum will provide access to a petrology-mineralogy characterisation facility as part of the Transnational Access (TA) initiative within this programme.

The facility will give EU-based researchers access to a suite of equipment ideal for the analysis of small poly-granular samples, thin sections, single grains and hand specimens. We offer instruments including computed tomography (CT) and X-ray diffraction (XRD).

Analysing space samples

The team at the Museum are helping to improve the methodology for handling, investigating and analysing rare or unique samples collected on sample return missions to other planets. 

The team are using the Museum's collection of meteorites from asteroids, the Moon and Mars to work out how to maximise the scientific information extracted from grains of material a few microns wide. The work will help reveal the limitations of these samples. 

In addition the team will develop ways to minimise the loss of mass when preparing samples for analytical geochemistry. 


This work will be completed in collaboration with the 

Meteorite collection

The Museum houses one of the world's finest collections of meteorites, with around 5,000 individual pieces from 2,000 meteorites.

Explore the Mineralogy Collections

The Mineralogy Collections at the Museum are made up of separate collections of minerals, gems, rocks, meteorites and ores.

Rock collection

The Museum’s rock collection consists of approximately 123,000 samples collected from around the world during the last 250 years.