Meteorites in the News – June 2013

The meteorite news of late has been a strange mix of the ridiculous and the very interesting. First, the fall of stones into the woman’s yard that were reported to have endangered the children, certainly do not look like meteorites to this author. These “meteorites” have backward colors. They are black on the insides and a caramel brown on the outside. With only a couple exceptions the fusion crust which forms on meteorites is black. It seems that every element on the periodic table has some relationship to the transportation of life to Earth from outer space by means of asteroid fragments.

One of the good bits of news was the recovery of a fine meteorite specimen from a corn field in Minnesota. The 33 pound (15kg) stone was found a couple years ago and finally examined recently. It was determined to be an iron meteorite by its 8 percent nickel content and the Widmanstätten pattern it displayed. About three miles away an 8.94 kg iron meteorite was found in 1894. It is likely that the new meteorite find is related but further testing will be required to prove that.

TheMeteorite Geiger Counter Russians are recovering from the devastation caused by the asteroid entry of February 15th, 2013. Hundreds of meteorites have been recovered from the area downrange of the air burst that caused the damage. The Russian government is working with agencies and research groups in other countries to begin a coordinated effort to develop technologies for asteroid protection. Officials have checked for radiation after the Chelyabinsk event and determined that the levels of radiation are normal. While it is true that very slight radiation of some short lived elements is found in fresh meteorites. It is so small an amount that it is only measurable in the laboratory and only lasts a short time. Yet, someone seems to always bring out a Geiger counter when a meteorite lands.