Meteorite HUNTERS

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Meteorites are among the rarest materials that exist on our planet-far less common than gold, diamonds, or even emeralds.

 
 

 

What are meteorites?

Meteorites are essentially shooting stars that survive the journey through the earth's atmosphere and hit the ground. They transition from being a Meteoroid (which are still in space), to a Meteor (now crossed into earth's atmosphere), and finally, earn the title of Meteorite when they physically land on earth's surface. so, in short, The only thing that differentiates a Meteorite from other space rocks, is it's physical contact with terrestrial ground.

What are Meteorites made of?

Meteorites are made of pieces of space rock that have been broken or blasted off in space. Comets, asteroids, planets and any other alien rock that make contact with earth are all potential meteorites. They typically range between the size of a pebble and a fist. Some are rocky, while others are metallic, or combinations of rock and metal. There are three major types of meteorites: Iron, stony, and stony-irons.

  • iron meteorites:

    • almost completely made UP of METAL. Iron Meteorites are composed of iron-nickel with small amounts of sulphide and carbide minerals.

    • ​Most iron meteorites are thought to be the CORES of asteroids that melted early in their EXISTENCE.

  • stony-iron meteorites: ​

    • ​consist nearly of equal parts iron-nickel metal and silicate minerals including precious and semi-precious gemstones.

    • There are two different types of stony-iron meteorites: pallasite and mesosiderite.

      • pallasite​
      • mesosiderite
    • considered some of the most beautiful meteorites

    • have nearly equal amounts of metal and silicate crystals (Silica is found in nature as the mineral quartz)

 

  • stony meteorites:

    • made mostly of silicate minerals

    • ​​Chondrites are classified into two major groups: ordinary and carbonaceous.

      ​​​Ordinary chondrites are the most common type, making up 86 percent of all meteorites that have landed on earth. They are embedded with hardened droplets of lava called chondrules, hence the name chondrite. Chondrites form when dust and small particles come together to form asteroids which took place more than 4.5 billion years ago, the same time the solar system formed.

Each group can be split into many more classes and types depending on the minerals, structure and chemistry. The most common type of meteorite are stony but surprisingly, older meteorites are more likely to be of the iron variety.

What Do Meteorites Look Like?

Meteorites resemble regular Earth rocks, but they usually have a dark, burned exterior called a fusion crust which can appear shiny. It forms as the outer surface of the rock melts while passing through Earth's atmosphere. THE physical process of space rock burning through the atmosphere is  known as thermal ablation. this process causes meteorites to form a roughened, smooth, or appear like a thumbprint on the surface.

Newly fallen meteorites will have a very fresh, rich black fusion crust which is reminiscent of a piece of charcoal. Fusion crust is thin and fragile and will weather away over time, so a recently fallen stone will exhibit a dark black crust with no weathering or rust stains.

What Do Meteorites FEEL LIKE?

Iron meteorites are heavier and easier to distinguish from Earth rocks than stony meteorites.

Why Do people care about meteorites?

 

Meteorites can help scientists study the different materials that once formed planets billions of years ago. Scientists can tell where meteorites originate based on the location it landed and BY observing GEOGRAPHIC IMAGES. using this information, they can calculate where that particular meteorite orbited making it possible to map and project their movement. By comparing the compositional properties of meteorites, scientists are able to classify the different types of asteroids. they can study how old the meteorites are – up to 4.6 billion years. By studying meteorites, much can be learned about the solar system's history.

  • chondrites are integral to the study of the solar system’s origin, age, and composition. This type of structure is very similar to terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars and Earth),which also have metallic cores.

  • Iron meteorites can tell us a great deal about how the metallic cores of planets formed.

 

what do I look for when searching for meteorites?

  • black and crusty appearance 

  • appears darker than surrounding rocks

  • sticks to a magnet

  • feels unusually heavy compared to it's size

  • indentions resembling thumb prints

  • a rock or stone that sets off a metal detector 

  • a recently fallen stone will exhibit a dark black crust with no weathering or rust stains.

How Do We Know Where Meteorites Come From?

Most meteorites come from shattered asteroids, some come from Mars, the Moon, AND theoretically even Mercury or Venus. scientists can identify Martian meteorites by comparing the composition of a new specimen with samples and data collected by Martian satellites and rovers. mars meteorites will contain pockets of trapped gas, and just knowing that provides a point of reference to identify if a meteorite is a visitor from the red planet. Moon Rock Samples from the Apollo mission can be used in comparison as well.

what other things can i find from space?

 

  • Micro Meteorites

    • Micrometeorites are basically micrometeoroids that have survived entry through Earths atmosphere.

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