Dutch sci­en­tists fete rare me­te­orite find

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

Dutch sci­en­tists on Mon­day cel­e­brated the rare dis­cov­ery of me­te­orite in The Nether­lands, which at 4.5-bil­lion years old may hold clues to the birth of our so­lar sys­tem. “Me­te­orites are very spe­cial be­cause we do not have rocks of this age on earth,” said ge­ol­o­gist Leo Kriegs­man from the Nat­u­ralis bio­di­ver­sity cen­tre in Lei­den in a YouTube video mark­ing the oc­ca­sion. The fist-sized me­te­orite, weigh­ing about 500 grams, crashed through the roof of a shed in the small town of Broek in Water­land, just north of Am­s­ter­dam, in Jan­uary prob­a­bly trav­el­ling at the speed of a high-ve­loc­ity train.

It was dis­cov­ered the next morn­ing by the res­i­dents un­der a bro­ken pile of wood from the roof, but de­spite an ex­ten­sive search, no other frag­ments have been found in the area. Even though me­teor show­ers prob­a­bly reach the north­ern Euro­pean coun­try ev­ery three to four years, the small space rocks are very hard to find as they can of­ten end up in wa­ter, or peat-bogs or strewn on for­est floors where they are hard to dis­tin­guish.

Very ex­cit­ing

This is only the sixth me­te­orite found in the past 200 years in The Nether­lands, and the last such find dates back to 1990. So Kriegs­man said it was “very ex­cit­ing” when the home-own­ers con­tacted them about their find. “We can learn from it what hap­pened in the very be­gin­ning of the so­lar sys­tem when you had a stel­lar cloud that col­lapsed and min­er­als started to form, when plan­e­toids started to form for the very first time,” said Kriegs­man.

“So it gives us in­for­ma­tion on what hap­pened at the very be­gin­ning when the Earth was formed.” He es­ti­mated that the me­te­orite prob­a­bly came from the re­gion be­tween Mars and Jupiter where there is a large as­ter­oid belt with “a lot of rocks and small plan­ets” fly­ing around which some­times fall out of their or­bit. The Lei­den cen­tre un­veiled the me­te­orite on Mon­day, af­ter car­ry­ing out ex­ten­sive tests.

“We wanted to be 100 per­cent sure of what kind of me­te­orite it was, so we needed to carry out some re­search first,” Kriegs­man said. This one has been iden­ti­fied as a type L6 chron­dite, which is a fairly com­mon kind. But Kriegs­man said all me­te­orites add to the sci­en­tific body of knowl­edge, and places like Antarc­tica and the Sa­hara desert where many have been found have boosted the sci­ence in re­cent years.

“There are many dif­fer­ent types of me­te­orites, and it’s al­ways use­ful to have more me­te­orites even if they con­firm the the­ory that we al­ready have,” he said. He now plans to carry out fur­ther re­search on the space rock, with the help of a master’s stu­dent, to try to de­ter­mine from what depth of an ear­lier planet it may have come.—AFP

LEI­DEN: This handout pic­ture from the Nat­u­ralis Bio­di­ver­sity Cen­tre shows the sixth Me­te­orite ever to be found in the Nether­lands dis­played at the cen­tre in Lei­den. —AFP

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