Science

An out-of-this-world discovery in Antarctica

An out-of-this-world discovery in Antarctica
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Scientists say they’ve found a space rock for ages in Antarctica – an extremely rare meteorite that contains some of the oldest elements in the solar system.

“When we saw it sitting alone in the middle of the blue ice, we were all very excited,” said researcher Maria Valdes of the Chicago Field Museum. told the Chicago Tribune.

17-lb the meteorAn international team discovered on January 5 what it described as “the size of a gourd” at the end of a nearly 11-day expedition.

The extraordinary rock, which contains material billions of years old, is one of the largest meteorites found on the continent and likely originated in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The Independent reported this.

“To put meteorite size into perspective, of the 45,000 meteorites recovered from Antarctica in the last century, only 100 are this size or larger,” said the Field Museum in Chicago, which was part of the expedition.

Snowmobile researchers spent more than two weeks combing ice fields in search of meteorites when they made the stunning discovery as they finished their exploration, The Tribune reported.


Four researchers pose with their findings.
Researchers celebrate their out-of-this-world discovery.
Courtesy of Maria Valdes / SWNS

    Close up shot of rare space rock.
A close-up shot of a rare space rock.
Courtesy of Maria Valdes / SWNS

Valdes said they were hesitant to celebrate at first “because we knew that if we found a meteorite, it really was the mother lode. In the last days, the last hour.”

The team was convinced they had indeed found a rare space rock when members discovered it was “the size of a bowling ball but twice the weight of a bowling ball,” Valdes told the paper.

The rock contained what Valdes described as a “fusion crust”—a glassy outer layer that melted slightly as it entered the atmosphere. It was also worn out, a mark that had been on the earth for 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 Earth’s evolution,” Valdes said. “Size doesn’t necessarily matter when it comes to meteorites, and even tiny micrometeorites can be incredibly scientifically valuable.”


Photo of their tent in the snow field
Scientists from the US, Belgium and Switzerland spent 11 days combing the icy continent in search of space rocks.
Courtesy of Maria Valdes / SWNS

Most of the 45,000 meteorites found in Antarctica over the past century weigh just a few grams, The Independent noted.

The discovery came months after NASA’s breakthrough Destroy a 530-foot-wide asteroid A 6.2-mile-wide asteroid that scientists believe is on a test run to prepare for the possibility of a giant space rock hurtling toward Earth and threatening it wiped out Dinosaurs Millions of years ago.

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