On top of the dry conditions, Antarctica is ideal for meteorite hunting: the black space rocks stand out clearly against snowy fields. The churning motion of the glaciers against the rock below helps re-expose the meteorites near the surface of the continent’s blue ice fields, even after they descend into the ice.
Having just returned from Antarctica, a group of international researchers can attest to the continent’s meteorite-hunting friendliness. They brought back five new meteorites, including one that weighs 16.7 pounds (7.6 kg).
Vinciane Debaille of the Free University of Brussels (FNRS-ULB) said,“Going on an adventure exploring 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 images.”
The Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences will examine the five meteorites the team retrieved. The sediment that may have contained minute micrometeorites was distributed among the researchers for investigation 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 tiny micrometeorites can be incredibly scientifically valuable, but of course, finding a big meteorite like this one is rare, and exciting.”
“I’m eager to see what the analyses of the meteorites reveal because “studying meteorites helps us better understand our place in the universe. The bigger a sample size we have of meteorites, the better we can understand our Solar System, and the better we can understand ourselves.”