Meteorite hunters in Antarctica, led by Maria Valdes, a researcher at the University of Chicago, hit the jackpot. They found five meteorites, one of which weighs 7.6 kg. What is most interesting, to search for such a cosmic treasure, it was not even necessary to dig – the expedition saw a large meteorite on top of the snow, where it differed from other rocks by its unusual texture.
Antarctica is an ideal place to search for surviving space rocks. The local dry climate prevents excessive weathering over time.
“When it comes to meteorites, size doesn’t have to matter. Even tiny micrometeorites can be incredibly valuable from a scientific point of view. But, of course, to find such a large meteorite like this is very rare,” explains Valdes.
Valdes believes that of the tens of thousands of meteorites found in Antarctica, only about 100 were as large as the one her team found. To find meteorites, the researchers rode snowmobiles and went to areas previously mapped and identified using satellite images as potential meteorite landing sites.
When the team discovered a potential meteorite, they used a portable tool to test the magnetic properties of the rock. While most of these meteorites remain on the surface, even when submerged in ice, they subsequently “emerge” during the movement of glaciers.
Key to the Universe
The next step for scientists is to determine what meteorites can tell us about the Universe. The five rocks found by Valdes and her team will be analyzed at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, and soil samples from the area will be analyzed by the Université Libre de Bruxelles team itself.
Earlier we reported on how the Martian meteorite turned out to be surprisingly rich in organic matter.
According to EurekAlert
Follow us on Twitter to get the most interesting space news in time