Thursday, May 10, 2007

Meteorite mania

OK, here's a couple of meteorite topics for today:

Did a meteorite fall from the recent Kansas tornado? I have a pretty intense tornado-phobia, so my heart goes out to the residents of Greensburg, Kansas and everyone who is helping them recover from the massive tornado that struck this week. But tornadoes have nothing to do with meteorites. In this case, part of the massive Brenham pallasite, which was found nearby in 1949, was on display in the Greensburg Big Well Museum. The Museum was one of the buildings destroyed in the massive tornado, but contrary to some reports out there that the 1000-lb Brenham chunk was blown away and recovered east of Greensburg or in some farmer's field, the meteorite was in fact recovered in the rubble of the destroyed museum building. No flying meteorites associated with the tornado.

Riddle me this Science Girl: What is up with the meteorite that crashed into the house in New Jersey? Hmm, I was out in the frozen wasteland when this happened, but it was apparently thought to be a meteorite that week by the group at Rutgers. The news articles only say that the Rutgers group considered the density and magnetism of the sample and haven't been able to do a definitive test for nickel concentration, the true fingerprint of an iron meteorite, so there may be more news coming. Up to 100 fist-sized meteorites fall to Earth every year, so that part isn't unusual. The majority of meteorites that fall are ordinary chondrites, so a falling iron is unusual. The chances of a meteorite falling into a piece of your property are remote - there's only a few accounts of that ever happening anywhere. So though the meteorite itself may not be scientifically spectacular, the circumstances (fresh fall, iron meteorite, human interest story) are highly unusual and are likely to drive the price up for collectors (the piece of crap car that was hit by the Peekskill meteorite went on tour and eventually sold for $12K!).

Finally, I've very pleased to announce our new UNM Meteorite Museum web pages, including a Virtual Tour of our collection, photos of hand specimens and thin sections, tons of information about meteorites and their parent bodies, and links to our collections catalog. The information level is aimed pretty low because our physical audience at the Museum is mostly gradeschool field trips, but you might find it interesting anyway!

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