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Meteorite Billions of Years Old Found in Antarctica


The researchers with their 16.7-pound find. White helmet Maria Schönbächler. Green helmet Maria Valdes. Black helmet Ryoga Maeda. Orange helmet Vinciane Debaille. Photo courtesy of Maria Valdes.

A 16.7 pound (7.6 kg) meteorite was discovered by a team of scientists in Antarctica recently. The scientists from Field Museum explained that both the size and the weight of the meteorite made this find unusual.

However, Antarctica is a place where many meteorites are found. This is because the continent is just one wide open space with dry weather. And its white ice covered landscape means that black meteorites will stand out making them easy to find.

The Field Museum, which led the expedition, explained, “To put the meteorite’s size in perspective, of the 45,000 meteorites retrieved from Antarctica over the last century, only 100 are this size or larger.”

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They also described the significance of the find by explaining that out of around 45,000 meteorites discovered in Antarctica over the last 100 years, only about 100 have been this big or larger. This is because the Earth has a natural defense shield of a sort in its atmosphere that burns things up when they enter it from space. So most meteors either burn up completely or leave behind only a small rock or pebble. This is what is seen when people talk about shooting stars.

Field Museum research scientist Maria Valdes, who was part of the team, said, “We were sort of like pioneers going into the unknown.”

The scientist said the meteor is about the size of a bowling ball, but with twice the weight so it is made out of a much denser material. But as Valdes explained, “Size doesn’t necessarily matter when it comes to meteorites, and even tiny micrometeorites can be incredibly scientifically valuable.”

Vinciane Debaille of the Université Libre de Bruxelles who led the expedition said, “Going on an adventure exploring unknown areas is exciting, but we also had to deal with the fact that the reality on the ground is much more difficult than the beauty of satellite images.”



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