Student Features

Text Size

Chip off the Old Rock
Who Are NASA's Space Science Explorers?

Who are NASA's Space Science Explorers? The scientist studying black holes in space. The teacher talking about the secrets of the cosmos. And the student asking if there is life away from Earth. All of these people are Space Science Explorers. They are all curious about our solar system and space. This is a story about a NASA Space Science Explorer.

Marilyn Lindstrom studying a piece of meteorite
Image above: Marilyn Lindstrom studies a piece of meteorite. Her suit helps keep the rock clean. Credit: NASA
There are lots of famous people on Earth. But can you imagine being famous in space, too? Marilyn Lindstrom can. She has a mountain and an asteroid named after her!

Asteroids are large rocks that orbit the Sun. Sometimes these rocks collide. When that happens, smaller chunks can break off. Those that fall to Earth are called meteorites.

Marilyn has worked at NASA for many years. For a long time her job was to take care of meteorites. She made sure they were handled with care. And that they were ready for research. The rocks had to be split into smaller chips. Then the chips could be sent out to scientists. She did such a good job that an asteroid was named after her.

Lindstrom Ridge in Antarctica
Image above: This image shows Lindstrom Ridge in Antarctica. Credit: Dave Mittlefehldt, NASA Johnson Space Center
But Marilyn also has a claim to fame here on Earth. The meteorites she took care of came from Antarctica. So now one of the mountains where some were found is named after her. It's called "Lindstrom Ridge."

Scientists can learn a lot from meteorites. Many are as old as the solar system. That's 4.5 billion years! These rocks hold clues to how the solar system began.

Not all meteorites come from asteroids. Some come from the Moon or Mars. The last time astronauts went to the Moon was more than 30 years ago. NASA is planning to send astronauts back to the Moon soon. And then onto Mars. Until then, we can learn a lot about the Moon and Mars from these rocks.

Marilyn Lindstrom
Image above: Lindstrom hopes to share her joy for science. Credit: NASA
Marilyn likes to work with meteorites. She likes that her work combines geology and chemistry. Geology is the study of rocks. And chemistry is the study of elements, like iron and nickel. Some meteorites contain these and other elements.

Marilyn hopes that more young people will share her joy for science. Part of her job is to teach people about the solar system. She wants kids to know that science is fun, and that anyone can do it.

Who knows? Maybe some day you, too, will be a scientist. And if you do a really good job you could be famous! Not just around the world, but also all over the solar system.

Dan Stillman, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies