Br. Robert J. Macke, S.J.

Br. Robert J. Macke, S.J.



Vatican Meteorite Collection

Area of Research

Meteorite Physical Properties


  • B.S. Physics – Massachusetts Institute of Technology – 1996
  • M.A. Physics – Washington University (St. Louis, MO, USA) – 1999
  • M.A. Philosophy – St. Louis University – 2006
  • Ph.D. Physics – University of Central Florida (Orlando, FL, USA) – 2010
  • M.T.S. Theology – Boston College School of Theology and Ministry – 2013


  • Meteoritical Society (since 2007)
  • American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Sciences (since 2007)
  • International Astronomical Union (since 2015)


Brother Robert Macke SJ is a member of the U.S. Central and Southern Province of the Society of Jesus. He was born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1974. After studying physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Washington University in St. Louis, he taught astronomy for a few years Bowling Green State University (Bowling Green, Ohio) before entering the Society of Jesus in 2001.

As a Jesuit, he studied philosophy at St. Louis University. He then taught physics, astronomy, and mathematics at Rockhurst University (Kansas City, Missouri) for one year, and then began a doctoral program studying meteorite physical properties at University of Central Florida. His dissertation, Survey of Meteorite Physical Properties: Density, Porosity and Magnetic Susceptibility, detailed measurements on more than 1200 individual meteorite specimens from major collections throughout the United States and Europe. Between 2011 and 2013 he studied theology at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, during which time he also constructed a new ideal-gas pycnometer for measuring meteorite densities. Br. Macke joined the Vatican Observatory in July 2013, where he studies meteorite physical properties in the observatory’s meteorite laboratory.  In August 2014, Br. Macke became the curator of the Vatican collection of 1200 meteorite specimens.

Research Interests

Br. Macke studies meteorite physical properties, including density, porosity, magnetic susceptibility, and more recently, thermal properties.  His research has been conducted on most of the major meteorite collections in the United States and Europe.  In addition, Br. Macke is involved in a study concerned with interpreting gravimetric data from the surface of the moon and mars. This requires measuring the density and porosity of lunar and martian materials including not only meteorites but also lunar samples brought back to earth by the Apollo space missions of the 1960’s and 1970’s.  To date, he has measured about 60 individual Apollo moon rocks from all 6 successful missions and all representative lithologies.

Recent Peer-Reviewed Publications

  • R. J. Macke, C. P. Opeil, D. T. Britt, G. J. Consolmagno, A. Irving (2024), Low-temperature thermal and physical properties of lunar meteorites. Wiley Online Library, 17 April 2024
  • Friedrich, J. M., Rubin A. E., Beard S. P., Swindle T. D., Isachsen C. E., Rivers M. L., and MACKE R. J. (2014) Ancient porosity preserved in ordinary chondrites: Shock, compaction and thermal metamorphism. Meteoritics and Planetary Science 49: 1214-1231.
  • Consolmagno G., Schaefer M. W., Schaefer B. E., Britt D. T., MACKE R. J., Nolan M. C., and Howell E. S. (2013) The Measurement of Meteorite Heat Capacity at Low Temperatures Using Liquid Nitrogen Vaporization. Planetary and Space Science 87, 146-156.
  • Kiefer W. S., MACKE R. J., Britt D. T., Irving A. J., and Consolmagno G. J. (2012) The density and porosity of lunar rocks. Geophysical Research Letters 39, L07201.
  • MACKE R. J., Consolmagno G. J. and Britt D. T. (2011) Density, porosity and magnetic susceptibility of carbonaceous chondrites. Meteoritics & Planetary Science 46, 1842-1862.
  • Wittmann A., Kring D. A., Friedrich J. M., Troiano J., MACKE R. J., Britt D. T., Swindle T. D., Weirich J. R., Rumble D. III, and Lasue J. (2011) H/L chondrite LaPaz Icefield 031047: A feather of Icarus? Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 75, 6140-6159.
  • Kohout T. Kiuru R., Montonen M., Sheirich P., Britt D., MACKE R., and Consolmagno G. (2011) Internal structure and physical properties of the asteroid 2008 TC3 inferred from study of the Almahata Sitta meteorites. Icarus 212, 697-700.
  • MACKE R. J., Britt D. T. and Consolmagno G. J. (2011) Density, porosity and magnetic susceptibility of achondritic meteorites. Meteoritics & Planetary Science 46, 311-326.
  • MACKE R. J., Consolmagno G. J., Britt D. T., and Hutson M. L. (2010) Enstatite chondrite density, magnetic susceptibility and porosity. Meteoritics & Planetary Science 45, 1513-1546.
  • MACKE R. J., Britt D. T. and Consolmagno G. J. (2010) Analysis of systematic error in “bead method” measurements of meteorite bulk volume and density. Planetary and Space Science 58, 421-426.