Ever wonder what a meteorite looks like inside? These image were made in cross-polarized light, where a polarizer between the light source and the microscope slide is rotated. The beautiful effect, called birefringence, causes the colors of the crystals in the meteorite’s minerals to change, creating amazing colors, as the polarizer is rotated.
Astronomers and planetary geologists study meteorites in thin section to determine their material makeup. The colors and angles of refraction of the light through the crystals help identify the crystals. Some of the material inside meteorites are quite likely as old as, or older than, the Earth itself.
1,2) The Allende meteorites (named after a pueblito in Mexico called Allende where they fell in 1969) contain interstellar dust particles which are thought to be the oldest unaltered particles in our Solar System.
3) This meteorite is called NWA 4292 and was found in the Sahara Desert in Africa in 2005.
The Fukang meteorite, believed to be some 4.5 billion years old, was found near a town of the same name in China, in 2000. It is a pallasite, a type of meteorite with golden crystals of a mineral called olivine embedded in a silvery honeycomb of nickel-iron.
The original meteorite weighted just over a thousand kilogram (~2k pounds), but the rock was so brilliant that everybody wanted a piece of it. Since then it has been divided into dozens of thin slices and auctioned or distributed around the world. Fukang is possibly the most stunning extraterrestrial piece of rock man has ever seen.
Agatized dinosaur bone is a rare form of fossilized dinosaur bone where the original fossilized bone (typically permineralized with calcite) has been re-mineralized (replaced/substituted) with silica-type compounds (agate, jasper, chalcedony, or opal). This bone comes from the Bushy Basin Member of the Morrison Formation, approximately 150 million years old. The large cell structure indicates it came from a theropod (meating-eating dinosaur).
Gibeon is an iron-nickel meteorite that fell in prehistoric times in Namibia. The crystal structure of this meteorite provides a classic example of fine octahedrite and the Widmanstatten pattern is appreciated for its beauty both by collectors and designers of jewelry.
Scientists have discovered unexpected ingredients for life — organic molecules never seen before in meteorites — inside a chunk of space rock that fell to Earth over California last year.
The discovery comes from an analysis of the so-called Sutter’s Mill meteorite, which lit up the California night sky with a dazzling fireball in April 2012. Meteorite fragments from the event may shed light on the primordial ooze that helped give rise to life on Earth.
Meteors that streak across Earth’s sky mostly are fragments of the asteroids that lie between Mars and Jupiter. Meteorites can be rich in organic compounds, including some found among life on Earth.
The organic chemicals in meteorites can get extracted with the aid of solvents. Speculation regarding the origin of life is based on the notion that it arose from a “prebiotic” soup of organic molecules, perhaps delivered in part by meteorites. Initially, fragments of the Sutter’s Mill meteorite apparently possessed fewer dissolvable organic compounds left after solvent extraction compared to other similar meteorites.
However, the researchers tried dissolving the fragments in conditions mimicking hydrothermal vents on Earth, the environment often seen in the early Earth that life might have arisen within. Upon such treatment, the rocks released organic molecules not previously detected in similar meteorites. The findings that suggest there are far more organic materials available via meteorite for planetary environments than scientists assumed.
Willamette Wonder The Willamette meteorite is the largest ever found in North America. A settler named Ellis Hughes found the meteorite in Oregon in 1902 and moved the 15.5-ton iron rock to his own property.
When pallasite meteorites are sliced open and polished, a matrix of stunning yellow crystals are revealed. This specimen was found in 1951 by a farmer in a town called Esquel in the Argentine Patagonia.
Peridotite xenoliths in basalt. Peridote or olivine is a magnesium-iron silicate mineral commonly found in the Earth’s mantle. The photos show “chunks” of green peridote crystals that have broken off from a larger mass and floated into the magma within the Earth’s mantle, before being exposed at the Earth’s surface. Magnesium-iron rich olivine is also commonly found in meteorites. Pallasite meteorites contain olivine crystals mixed with molten iron from the cores of large, diffentiated asteroids. Click here to see extraterrestrial olivine.
From the Tissint meteorite, which fell east of Tata, Morocco, on July 18th, 2011. This fragment was blasted from the surface of Mars some 700,000 years ago. Most martian meteorites have been collected in Antarctica some time after their initial fall to earth, but because the Tissint meteorite was collected soon after its collision with our planet, scientists are better able to study elements within its structure that reflect atmospheric, surface, and interior qualities of Mars. This meteorite is the first to indicate the presence of moisture on Mars, due to weathering caused by liquid found within this specimen.
tl;dr saw the first possible evidence of water on Mars and my brain exploded.
Weighing 15.5 tons, this iron meteorite is the largest ever found in the United States and the sixth-largest in the world. The smooth surface melted during its blazing entry into the atmosphere, while the pits formed on the Earth’s surface.
The Willamette Meteorite was originally located within the Upper Willamette Valley of Oregon. It was revered as a spiritual being that has healed and empowered the people of the valley by the Clackamas Indians who occupied the region.
The Novato meteorite is an ordinary chondrite which entered the earth’s atmosphere and broke up at 19:44 Pacific time on 17 October 2012. The fireball created sonic booms and fragmented. This animation is a composite of 18 still photographs taken by Bay Area, Calif., resident, Bob Moreno, of the October 17 fireball.