Scientists say they have found a space rock for the ages in Antarctica, an extremely rare meteorite that contains some of the oldest material in the solar system.
“When we saw this one sitting alone in the middle of the blue ice, we all got very excited,” said Field Museum Chicago researcher María Valdés. he told the Chicago Tribune.
the 17 pounds meteors, described as “the size of a pumpkin”, was discovered on January 1. 5 by an international team at the end of an 11-day expedition.
The extraordinary rock, which contains material from billions of years ago, is one of the largest meteorites ever found on the continent and likely originated in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The Independent reported.
“To put the size of the meteorite in perspective, of the 45,000 meteorites recovered from Antarctica over the last century, only 100 are this size or larger,” said the Field Museum of Chicago, which was part of the expedition.
Snowmobile researchers spent the better part of two weeks combing ice fields for meteorites when they made the startling find just as they were about to wrap up their exploration, according to The Tribune.
Valdés said they were hesitant to celebrate at first “because we knew that if we found a meteorite, this was really the mother lode. In the last day, the last hour.”
The team became convinced that they had indeed found a rare space rock when members discovered that it was “the size of a bowling ball but twice the weight of a bowling ball,” Valdés told the newspaper.
The rock had what Valdés described as a “fusion crust,” a glassy outer layer that melted slightly when it entered the atmosphere. It was also worn, a sign that it had been on Earth for many ages.
The meteorite was sent to the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Belgium for chemical analysis.
“All meteorites have something to say about the evolution of the Earth,” Valdés said. “Size doesn’t necessarily matter when it comes to meteorites, and even tiny micrometeorites can be incredibly valuable scientifically.”
Most of the 45,000 meteorites found in Antarctica over the past century weighed only a few grams, The Independent noted.
The finding came months after NASA managed to destroyed a 530 foot wide asteroid in a test to prepare for the possibility of a massive space rock hurtling toward Earth and threatening it, like the 6.2-mile-wide asteroid scientists believe erased the dinosaurs Millions of years ago.
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