In addition to the dry conditions, Antarctica is also ideal for meteorite hunting: the black space rocks stand out clearly against the snowy fields. The swirling motion of the glaciers against the rock below helps to re-expose the meteorites near the surface of the continent’s blue ice fields, even after they’ve descended into the ice.
A group of international researchers have just returned from Antarctica and can attest to the continent’s friendliness for hunting meteorites. They brought back five new meteorites, including one that weighs 16.7 pounds (7.6 kg).
Vinciane Debaille of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (FNRS-ULB) said: “Going on an adventure to explore unknown areas is exciting, but we also have to deal with the fact that the reality on the ground is much more difficult than the beauty of satellite imagery.”
The Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences will examine the five meteorites the team picked up. The sediment, which may have contained tiny micrometeorites, was distributed to the researchers for study at their respective universities.
Maria Valdes, a research scientist at the Field Museum and the University of Chicago, said: “Size doesn’t necessarily matter when it comes to meteorites, and even small micrometeorites can be incredibly scientifically valuable, but finding a large meteorite like this is obviously rare and exciting.”
“I’m curious to see what the analyzes of the meteorites reveal, because “studying meteorites helps us better understand our place in the universe. The larger the sample size we have of meteorites, the better we can understand our solar system and the better we can understand ourselves.”