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A privileged pedigree for meteorites

2 Jul 2018, 15:54 UTC
A privileged pedigree for meteorites
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Where do meteorites come from? This question has been occupying the scientific community ever since it was realised that these “rocks from the sky” are, in fact, pieces of other worlds arriving on our planet from deep space. New research done by scientists at the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium in the UK, the University of Florida at Gainsville, the Florida Space Institute and the University of Pennsylvania in the US and published this week in Nature Astronomy now suggests that meteorites, as well as the larger objects that pose an ever-present hazard to civilization if they hit our planet, come from a few large, ancient asteroids between Mars and Jupiter that were destroyed by collisions.
Snapshot of known solar system objects within the orbit of Jupiter. The white dots correspond to asteroids in the Main Belt. Source: Wikipedia Commons

Some tens of thousands of meteorites now lie in laboratories and private or museum collections across the globe. The vast majority originate from the so-called Main Asteroid Belt (see above), a region between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter occupied by millions of rocky objects. The smallest of those barely survive entry into the Earth’s atmosphere to land on ...

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