Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Souvenirs of falling stars


     The timing could not have been better.
     A week after the Field Museum unveiled its new interactive meteorite display, a green fireball went streaking across the night sky above Sheyboygan, being captured on a number of squad car dash cams.
     Well, maybe a little better.
Philipp Heck
    

    "One could hit the Field Museum," mused Philipp R. Heck, a little wistfully. "A small one. Then it could be the Field Meteorite."
     Heck is the museum's Robert A. Pritzker Associate Curator of Meteorites and Polar Studies. If you're wondering about the connection between rocks from the sky and global ice caps, ponder the challenge of trying to find the meteorite that fell to earth Monday morning. It landed in a spray of debris in Lake Michigan. "If the lake were frozen, I might be out there right now looking for it," said Heck, holding a satellite photo map he received that morning from NASA showing the meteorite's "strewn field," the area where pieces might fall. A region of maybe 50 square miles where you would have to comb the lake bottom, 150 feet down, looking for rocks the size of peanuts.
     Or you could go to the South Pole—as Heck has, helping the Indian government develop its meteorite research program—where the shifting glacial ice has a way of consolidating meteorites and offering them up.


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3 comments:

  1. Interesting. I especially appreciate the explanation of why meteorites are plentiful at the poles. I always assumed, in my half-assed, scientifically ignorant way, that it had something to do with the Earth's rotation.

    BTW, I couldn't find a link to the column in the "click here."

    Bitter Scribe

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  2. If shifting (or melting?) glacial ice consolidates meteorites, causing them to pop up to the surface, there should be a lot more of them visible in the near future.

    SandyK

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