Center for Meteorite Studies

September of 2009 marked the 40th anniversary of the Murchison meteorite fall, one of the most important meteorite falls in human history.  This carbonaceous chondrite was witnessed entering the Earth’s atmosphere between 10:45 and 11:00 AM September 28th, 1969, in Victoria, Australia.  The meteorite broke up into pieces as it fell, and several fragments were recovered, totaling over 100 kg.  Some specimens were found on the road, but the largest recovered piece actually fell through a roof, landing in some hay.

It was fortuitous for scientists that Murchison fell shortly after brand new clean laboratories were assembled in anticipation of the Apollo lunar sample return mission, providing a contaminant-free environment to study this organic-rich meteorite.

It was by studying Murchison that a team of researchers, including CMS founding director  Dr. Carleton B. Moore, discovered the first evidence of extraterrestrial amino acids in 1970  (Kvenvolden et al., 1970).  A more recent study has also shown evidence for the presence of extraterrestrial nucleobases (important parts of DNA and RNA) in Murchison (Martins et al., 2008).

After 40 years, Murchison remains one of the most studied meteorites, and is still the subject of active research at ASU. Could Murchison hold the key to how life formed on Earth?  Visit the Meteorite Gallery to see this fascinating meteorite on display.

Murchison small

K. Kvenvolden, J. Lawless, K. Pering, E. Peterson, J. Flores, C. Ponnamperuma, I. R. Kaplan & C. Moore. 1970. Evidence for Extraterrestrial Amino-acids and Hydrocarbons in the Murchison Meteorite. Nature 228: 923-926.

Z. Martins, O. Botta, M.L. Fogel, M.A. Sephton, D.P. Glavin, J.S. Watson, J.P. Dworkin, A.W. Schwartz, P. Ehrenfreund.  2008.  Extraterrestrial nucleobases in the Murchison meteorite. Earth & Planetary  Science Letters 270: 130-136.

 

 

 

 


Category: Meteorites

Comments are closed.

Facebook
Twitter
YouTube

Sign Up for Center Updates!

Be the first to learn about CMS events and news; sign up for email updates here!


Postdoctoral Scholar Opportunities!

The Center for Meteorite Studies at Arizona State University invites applications for 2 Postdoctoral Research Associates.  Click here for details!




Meteorite of the Month

Sericho

September's Meteorite of the Month is Sericho, a pallasite found in Kenya in 2016. According to the Meteoritical Bulletin (MB 106, in prep): In 2016, two brothers were searching for …


Upcoming Events

September 2017
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
August 27, 2017 August 28, 2017 August 29, 2017 August 30, 2017 August 31, 2017

New Discoveries Lecture

New Discoveries Lecture
September 1, 2017 September 2, 2017
September 3, 2017 September 4, 2017 September 5, 2017 September 6, 2017

Ask a Curator Day - Sep 13

Ask a Curator Day - Sep 13

Earth and Space Open House

Earth and Space Open House
September 7, 2017 September 8, 2017 September 9, 2017
September 10, 2017 September 11, 2017 September 12, 2017 September 13, 2017 September 14, 2017 September 15, 2017 September 16, 2017
September 17, 2017 September 18, 2017 September 19, 2017 September 20, 2017 September 21, 2017 September 22, 2017 September 23, 2017
September 24, 2017 September 25, 2017 September 26, 2017 September 27, 2017 September 28, 2017 September 29, 2017 September 30, 2017