Brother Bob Macke, SJ is the curator of meteorites at the Vatican Observatory; during his research measuring meteorite physical properties he has probably handled as many rocks from outer space as anyone alive today. Other astronomers may claim to study stars and planets, but mostly all they touch are photons; Br. Bob has handled actual stuff from space, from stellar dust at Washington University in St. Louis to moon rocks, and now asteroid samples at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Br. Bob was the guest for our podcast back in 2022, where he talked with Br. Guy about his adventures analyzing pieces from the Vatican Observatory’s meteorite collection in Rome:
Since then, Br. Bob has been busy playing-with, and mastering 3D design and printing – first building a replica of St. Ignatius Church in Rome from the 1800’s with Fr. Angelo Secchi’s observatory on the roof.
Then, designing and building a device to analyze asteroid samples returned from NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission in a clean-room environment at the Johnson Space Center – which is where he is at the time of this writing.
Brother Bob’s been a bit is busy!