We are involved with a new exciting project to go and search for meteorites in Antarctica! You may well have seen our previous blog about a study looking into the possibility of there being some missing types of iron meteorites in Antarctica – well the great news is that our colleague Dr Geoff Evatt (School of Maths), group member Dr Katherine Joy (SEES) and collaborators Prof. David Abrahams (Cambridge) and Prof. Anthony Peyton (SEEE) have been funded by the Leverhulme Trust charity working with the British Antarctic Survey to develop technology to locate and recovered potentially buried meteorites trapped in the Antarctic ice.
The project will test the mathematical hypothesis proposed in the team’s Nature Communications paper. The next couple of years will be spent adapting metal detection technology, currently being used in the search for landmines, to hunt meteorites that are metallic and magnetic (the stony-iron and iron types) and that may be buried within the Antarctic ice. We will be field testing in the Arctic and Antarctica before undertaking a full meteorite search mission. The project will involve closely working with the British Antarctic Survey to plan the best blue ice fields to safely visit and undertake a field search campaign.
The great news for the meteorite community is that in addition to searching for the trapped and buried iron-rich meteorite types we will be able to also recover the stony varieties as well which will likely be sitting on the ice surface (see the blog about the US-led ANSMET meteorite hunting trips) – we may well be coming back with fragments of asteroids and hopefully pieces of the martian and lunar crust to study in our labs.
G.W. Evatt, M.J. Coughlan, K.H.Joy, A.R.D. Smedley, P.J. Connolly, I.D. Abrahams (2016) A potential hidden layer of meteorites below the ice surface of Antarctica Nature Communications 7, Article number:10679 doi:10.1038/ncomms10679
Find out more about meteorite hunting teams:
- ANSMET http://caslabs.case.edu/ansmet/ – ANSMET programme and see this map of locations of meteorites recovered from the Transantarctic mountains at http://curator.jsc.nasa.gov/antmet/map.cfm . See the previous E&SS blog here about meteorite hunting with the ANSMET programme
- South Korea https://koreamet.kopri.re.kr/ – recently they have been searching with an Italian team in the Frontier Mountains
- Belgium and Japan http://yamato.nipr.ac.jp/ recently have been doing joint missions to the Yamoto and Asuka icefields area
Also see the NASA ARES meteorite curation site for details of recovered samples and associated science rationale for meteorite recovery and the Smithsonian who help classify the recovered ANSMET samples
The database of classified meteorites can be found at the Meteoritical Bulletin
If you would like to hold a meteorite in your hand then you can head over to the Manchester Museum where they have a great touch table display with lots of hot desert collected samples you can interact. The exhibit has been put together by our friends at Catch a Shooting Star.
Face of the Gibeon iron meteorite which was found in Namibia 1838. Iron meteorites like this were once part of the cores of early formed planetary bodies. Image: Mark Nottingham/Earth and Solar System.