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Category Native element class, Fersilicite group
(repeating unit)
Strunz classification 1.XX.00
Dana classification
Crystal system Isometric
Crystal class Tetartoidal (23)
H-M symbol: (23)
Space group P213
Crystal habit Cubic grain in microscopic dust particle (< 2.5 μm)
References [1][2]

Brownleeite is a silicide mineral with chemical formula MnSi. It was discovered by researchers of the Johnson Space Center in Houston while analyzing the Pi Puppid particle shower of the comet 26P/Grigg-Skjellerup. The only other known natural manganese silicide is mavlyanovite, Mn5Si3.[3]


The particles where collected from the stratosphere over south-western US in April 2003 using an ER-2 high-altitude research aircraft of the NASA. The team of researchers from USA, Germany and Japan was led by NASA scientist Keiko Nakamura-Messenger.[4][5]

To determine the mineral's origin and examine other dust materials, a new transmission electron microscope was installed in 2005 at Johnson Space Center.[6]

The mineral name was approved by the International Mineralogical Association (IMA Number 2008-011).[7] The NASA scientists named the mineral after Donald E. Brownlee, professor of astronomy at the University of Washington, Seattle.[8]

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