Center for Meteorite Studies

Meteorites land randomly over the Earth, though most fall in the water that covers over 70% of our planet's surface, and are never recovered.

Cosmic dust?

Up to 300 tons of space dust (including micrometeorites) fall to Earth every day.  In fact, so much cosmic dust ends up in our atmosphere that an international research project called CODITA (COsmic Dust In the Terrestrial Atmosphere) has been formed to study it – you can read more about it here, and learn how to collect your own micrometeorites here!

Meteorites are most easily recognized and recovered from geologically stable desert regions – either hot (like Arizona) or cold (like Antarctica). The low precipitation rate in these areas preserves the meteorites, allowing for their accumulation over time, and the lack of vegetation makes the meteorites easier to find.

ANSMET 2013Center Director Meenakshi Wadhwa participated in the 2013 Antarctic Search for Meteorites. The team spent 40 days canvassing the ice fields near the Grosvenor Mountains (~500 miles south of McMurdo Station), and recovered 425 meteorites. Image credit: Meenakshi Wadhwa.

Since there is an estimated one meteorite fall per square kilometer per year, geologically stable desert regions can show significant accumulations of meteorites. Some desert regions have dozens of different meteorites per square kilometer, though they can be difficult to distinguish from normal terrestrial rocks.

How are meteorites named?

Meteorites are typically named for the town or geographic feature nearest to their discovery or fall.  Some particularly unique meteorite names include Nothing, Millbillillie, and Lumpkin.

Meteorites have been identified on other planets too! Lebanon meteorite, on the surface of Mars. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/IRAP/LPGNantes/CNRS/IAS/MSSS .

Click here to learn about Arizona Meteorites!









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