Can you imagine being 4.5 billion years old? That is the age of the rare 52.8 kilogram meteorite chunk that is being investigated at the Royal Ontario Museum this week by Kimberly Tait, the museum’s curator, and the ROM research team. The meteorite is about the size of a school packsack, and it was found in Springwater, Saskatchewan last year. The type of meteorite is called a pallasite – one of 84 found on the entire planet. There are only 84 pallasites of all the 35,000 meteorites found on Earth. Inside the rock, to the naked eye, there are translucent greenish spots of a silicate mineral called olivine mixed in with a grey-colored iron/nickel alloy. What is special about this particular piece of pallasite is… …that the iron and the olivine (olivine, named after the green that is commonly the color of olives) are found together, something that never occurs with the minerals on Earth; and it is why then, we know it comes from outer space. Researchers believe that this piece of pallasite originated somewhere between the path of Jupiter and Mars.
Because of its rarity, it has been cut and divided to be shared amongst museums and researchers around the world. It is now helping researchers find out more about the universe in a different time/space, the formation of minerals inside asteroids, and minerals that may match to its makeup inside the Earth.
Meteorites have been found on the Moon, on Mars, and in places where they have landed on Earth, and generally range in size from marbles to basketballs, though some are very large. A meteorite is made by nature, originating from outer space, before it falls to and collides with the Earth’s surface, sometimes leaving a crater. As it travels through space, atmospheric pressure causes it to heat up until it forms a fireball emitting light sparks. In this state, it is often referred to as a shooting or falling star that if you see with the naked eye from Earth when looking up into the sky, you can make a wish upon it during its flight. Falling meteorites have reported to cause damage to people, livestock and land, so better to wish upon it fast, and then step out of the way!
For more information on meteorites and the pallasite chunk being researched this week at the Royal Ontario Museum, you can visit these websites:
For short video:
And for a fun learning game for the solar system, you can go here: