A meteorite that landed in a driveway in Winchcombe, England, was contaminated by table salt hours after hitting Earth, dashing hopes that it could be a primitive space rock.
Table salt found outside the Wichcome meteorite.
I found table salt outside the Wichcome meteorite.
Winchcombe meteoritewas fragmented and fell into the driveway of a Gloucestershire house and a nearby sheep field in February 2021. It was collected and stored in sealed bags within hours of the fragment seen in the driveway and a few days later debris in a sheep field.
However, even when recovering immediately after a fall, a recent study shows: This meteorite began to change due to interactions with the atmosphere and Earth’s surface.
Lead author of the study, Laura Jenkins, a PhD student at the University of Glasgow’s School of Geography and Earth Sciences, said: “The change on Earth began as soon as it encountered the Earth’s atmosphere, and we could see it in the samples we analyzed just months after the meteorite fell.”
Jenkins and his colleagues closely examined two fragments (around 600 grams): one from the driveway and one from the sheep field – using scanning electron microscopy, Raman spectroscopy and transmission electron microscopy.
All methods allow the identification of small minerals on the surface of the meteorite. The research team discovered both calcium sulfate and calcite – two forms of salt – in the sheep field sample and table salt in the driveway sample. Calcium sulfate and calcite were found on the exterior of the meteorite as it passed through the atmosphere at tens of thousands of kilometers per hour.
Jenkins said: “This shows how meteorites react with our atmosphere and that we need to be careful and take these types of changes on the ground into account when analyzing meteorites.”
Study co-author Luke Daly, senior lecturer at the University of Glasgow’s School of Geography and Earth Sciences, said: “This discovery suggests that the meteorite should be placed in stable storage under laboratory conditions as quickly as possible. Researchers recommend that newly discovered meteorites be stored in an inert gas to minimize reactions.
The researchers reported the results of this study on February 9 in the journal Meteorology and Planetary Science.
Article source: Tien Phong
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A meteorite that crashed into a driveway in Winchcombe, England, was contaminated with table salt hours after hitting Earth, dashing hopes that it…