Scientists find 17-pound meteorite in icy Antarctica

  • 21-01-2023, 19:30
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    A daring team of scientists has endured the inhospitable conditions of the icy desert of Antarctica to recover five new meteorites, including a near-17-pound monster space rock.

    The team of scientists included Field Museum and the University of Chicago researcher Maria Valdes, who estimated that of the 45,000 meteorites recovered to date from the icy wasteland of Antarctica, only 100 or so have been as large as the largest member of this new haul, which weighs 16.7 pounds (7.6 kilograms).

    "Size doesn't necessarily matter when it comes to meteorites, and even tiny micrometeorites can be incredibly scientifically valuable, but of course, finding a big meteorite like this one is rare and really exciting," Valdes said in a statement.

    The team, which was led by Vinciane Debaille, a planetary scientist at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (FNRS-ULB) in Belgium, was the first to explore new potential meteor sites that had been mapped using satellite imagery. 

    The team planned their excursion for Antarctica's summer, in late December, but temperatures in the region still hovered at around 14 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 10 degrees degrees Celsius). Valdes said that at some points during the mission, Antarctica was actually warmer than Chicago, but the weather felt more extreme to the team because of days spent riding snowmobiles and trekking through ice fields and nights spent sleeping in tents.

    The whopping new space rock and the other meteorites recovered by the researchers will now be analyzed at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, while the team members will individually divide and study samples of sediments they collected from Antarctica.