poses with one of the 924 meteorites that were collected
during last year’s expedition.
by: Carlton Allen
wind chills as low as –57° C (-70° F),
Linda Welzenbach—the Museum’s meteorite
collection manager—camped six weeks on the ice
in pursuit of meteorites.
Meteorite Program is a joint venture of the Smithsonian,
the National Science Foundation, and the National Aeronautics
and Space Administration. Since 1976, about 12,000 meteorites
from the Moon, Mars, and asteroids have been retrieved,
9,000 of which now reside in the Smithsonian’s
was the only Smithsonian employee on the 2002/2003 expedition.
She helped the team distinguish meteorites from earth
chondrite, a common type of meteorite containing the
Solar System’s early grains, weighs 1,260 grams
(2.7 lbs). The study of these ancient rocks reveals
the history of the Solar System.
of the first iron meteorites found in Antarctica, this
specimen has been sliced, polished, and etched to reveal
the crystalline structure.
It’s easier to find small meteorites here, because
they stand out against the ice and accumulate in specific
areas. More meteorites have been collected during the
last 26 years in Antarctica than in the previous 500
do they collect an Antarctic meteorite?
Each meteorite’s location is recorded with a global
positioning system. It is then measured, assigned a
number, briefly described in a field notebook, and photographed.
It is shipped frozen to NASA’s Johnson Space Center
meteorites once were part of the cores of large asteroids.
These originated from the same meteorite shower and
were collected in 2000 in the Meteorite Hills area.
Antarctica’s cold desert preserves small irons,
which would rust in other Earth environments.
meteorites are stored in special cabinets at the Museum
Support Center in Suitland, Maryland, to prevent rusting
or contamination from pollutants. When working in the
collection, Welzenbach wears a protective suit.
by: Chip Clark
See more Antarctic meteorites in the Earth, Moon, and
Meteorites Gallery of the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall
of Geology, Gems, and Minerals.
learn more about Science and Collections visit the following
of Mineral Sciences
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