I am utterly fascinated by meteorites, and it seems the rest of the world is too.
I mean, you have to be living under a rock (or have been hit by one) to have missed the video of the stony Russian bolide last week. It was the most witnessed and documented meteorite in the history of… ever.
And with an explosion of 500 kilotons, pretty freakin’ awesome! Even at 10-15 miles above ground, it shattered windows and damaged buildings.
Of course, now all the meteorite hunters are going crazy to find (and sell) remnants of the Chebarkul meteorite.
Extraterrestrial debris bombards the earth every day, but only a fraction makes it all the way down– maybe 500 strikes a year. And most of that juat small bits.
Did you also know there are three main types of meteorites: stony, iron, and stony-iron?
Most are the stony type– outer space rock from the crust of failed planet or asteroid. Some are iron (basically a solid chunk of iron/nickel alloy) from the dead, once molten cores of these bodies.
And then there are the rarest ones– the stony-iron meteorites. Basically the Reese’s cup of meteorites, mixing both stony and iron material.
And the coolest of these are the Pallasites. Like this:
Yes, I am holding a slab of meteorite in my hand. It’s a section of the Brenham meteorite, found in the famous Brenham, Kansas strewn field and crater.
It’s a remnant of a large meteorite that hit (what would become) Kansas thousands of years ago. Originally found by Native Americans, it gained notoriety when excavated in the 1920′s.
But they are still finding chunks– a guy just unearthed a chunk over 1000 pounds in like 2005!
Anyway– Pallasites are cool because within the iron/nickel matrix are olivine crystals (aka peridot).
Here’s me holding my slab up to the light:
You can see some really clear olivine crystals in this specimen. That’s what drew me to this particular piece.
One of the neater things about the Brenham pallasite is the morphology of the olivine. It tends to be very rounded. In many other pallasites, the olivine is more angular or blocky. (Aka not as pleasing).
I guess I like meteorites because they spark that thought chain where you start thinking about this random chunk of space debris, and how it’s billions of years old, and it’s travelled countless miles across the vastness of space, and how it may have once been part of a distant planet that has long been destroyed only to now rest in the palm of your hand on our planet which are both composed of all the same basic building blocks that have existed since the first stars began coalescing in the universe and you suddenly get a whiff of just how gigantic IT all is and just how infinitesimal you are in the grand, magical scheme of IT ALL…
Yeah, meteorites are cool.