Ever wanted to put your hand on Mars, the Moon or an asteroid and can’t wait for commercial spaceflight to one day fly you there as a space tourist? Well imagine no longer, you can get your hands on amazing rocks from other worlds just by visiting Manchester (it might be a little rainier than the Moon though!).
There is now a great new meteorite touchable display at the Manchester Museum that has been developed by the Catch a Shooting Star team, led by our colleagues at the Open University. The exhibit, which has been funded by a public engagement grant by the Science and Technology Facilities Council, is the first permanent display in the UK where you can handle so many different types of meteorites and impact rocks in one place. It’s amazing for us and our students to have these samples right in our own back yard in Manchester!
You can find out more about the samples that are on show at the Manchester exhibit at https://catchashootingstar.wordpress.com/manchester-display/ and you can watch the curator at the Museum of Manchester talking about the new meteorite handling table at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdEBxxxtrHo
The new display is a great opportunity to see firsthand the different types of samples that formed from the earliest material in our Solar System and through subsequent complicated geological processes. On show is a piece of the famous Chelyabinsk meteorite (derived from an asteroid) that fell in 2013 in Russia causing damage to local buildings. Another meteorite was formed in a volcanic lava flow on Mars, one that came from the ancient white highlands of the Moon, and several iron meteorites were formed in cores of planetary embryos.
In addition to all these fantastic meteorite samples are a collection of rocks from here on Earth in France. Why France (it’s a little closer than Mars!)?!? Well, these samples were formed when an asteroid hit a region called Rochechouart about 201 million years ago. These impact rocks are an important reminder that the Earth is vulnerable to collisions from our cosmic neighbours and products of such impact collisions are recorded in the geological record (see E&SS blog about another impact site at the Ries just next door in Germany).
Come on over to the Museum of Manchester and we would love to hear what you think about the new exhibit on our facebook page . Leave us a comment – Let us know – did it change the way that you view the planets around us? Did it make you want to learn more about space and exploration?
We would like to thank Richard Greenwood and Diane Johnson and colleagues from the Open University for all their hard work in developing the ‘Catch a Shooting Star’ project – you can find out more about Open University planetary science research at http://www.open.ac.uk/science/physical-science/planetary-space-sciences/research
Some of the samples on display were donated by Graham Ensor and Martin Goff at the British and Irish Meteorite Society – many thanks to them for their generosity
Thanks to an STFC grant for funding the project http://www.stfc.ac.uk/about-us/science-in-society/
Thanks to the Manchester Museum for hosting and helping to build the display in their meteorite gallery.