Scientists Discover Exceptionally Heavy Meteorite: ‘Rare and Truly Exciting’
Antarctica is a paradise for meteorite hunters. Dark rocks stand out against the pale, snowy landscape and the dry climate helps preserve them. A team of researchers set out to find meteorites in Antarctica and found a rare prize: a giant 16.7-pound (7.6-kilogram) meteorite.
The meteorite was one of five collected by the researchers, who set out on the journey in late December. “Size doesn’t necessarily matter when it comes to meteorites, and even tiny micrometeorites can be incredibly valuable scientifically, but of course finding a large meteorite like this is rare and really exciting,” researcher Maria Valdes said in a statement. of the Field Museum on Wednesday.
Valdes estimates that around 45,000 meteorites have been found in Antarctica over the past century, but only about 100 of them are 17 pounds in size or larger.
The team’s enthusiasm for the unusual find can be seen in a photograph where the researchers posed with the rock.
The research team tested a new technique using satellite imagery to pinpoint meteorite sites. “Setting off on an adventure to discover unknown territories is exciting, but you also had to deal with the fact that the reality on the ground is much more difficult than the beauty of satellite images”, explains Vinciane Debaille, student in glaciology. at the Free University of Brussels.
While the December schedule placed the team in Antarctica during the region’s summer, the expedition still braved cold temperatures and long treks and snowmobile rides.
Meteorites are intended to be studied at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. Each is a window to the cosmos. “The larger the sample size of meteorites,” Valdes said, “the better we can understand our solar system, and the better we can understand ourselves.”