Researchers recover spectacular meteorite from Antarctica
A researcher from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ), together with scientists from Belgium and the USA, has found a rare large meteorite in Antarctica. The stone, weighing 7.6 kilograms, is of great importance for research.
Published: 3:01 p.m
Updated: 3:02 p.m
Meteorites are clearly visible on the white snow in Antarctica.
“The fact that you find a meteorite that is more than the size of a fist is extraordinary,” said ETH geologist Maria Schönbächler in an interview with the Keystone-SDA news agency. She was part of the Antarctic mission. Most of the meteorites found weigh only about 20 grams.
“Meteorites are used for exploring planets,” said Schönbächler. Because the number of meteorites available for research is extremely limited. In Switzerland, for example, only eleven meteorites have been found since 2018. “7.6 kilograms more for analysis is therefore a lot,” explained Schönbächler.
The research team searched for meteorites in Antarctica from December 2022 to mid-January 2023. Using satellite images and GPS coordinates, they explored the potential of several areas. “The Antarctic is suitable for finding meteorites because the black stones are clearly visible on the white snow,” explained Schönbächler.
The migration of the glaciers would always uncover new meteorites in the million-year-old ice. In addition to the large meteorite, the researchers also found several small meteorites.
The meteorite was transported frozen to Brussels. There he is currently being thawed under controlled conditions at the Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences. “There are metals in a meteorite that can rust quickly,” explained Schönbächler. To avoid this, the water must be drained off immediately when it is thawed.
Once thawed, the meteorite will be accurately dated. “We assume that it is around four and a half billion years old,” said Schönbächler. The meteorite is then available for further scientific studies. In addition to Schönbächler, the research team included two Belgians and one from the USA.