The scientist that managed to recover a piece of the infamous Chelyabinsk meteorite that crash-landed in Russia back in 2013 has struck lucky yet again, this time in the Lut desert of Iran. In fact, with the help of a team of three other meteorite hunters, he’s managed to find 13 kilograms (28.7 pounds) of debris as old as the Solar System itself.
About 70 separate meteorite fragments were found lingering about in the scorching hot sands, with up to 12 of these belonging to the same variety of meteorite – although any additional information about the meteorites is still forthcoming.
Cosmic rubble falls to Earth literally all the time, and up to 78,000 tonnes (86,000 tons) of it falls from the skies every single year. Most of this is too fine to be detected by the naked eye, and much of it falls into the oceans or into grassland where it will never be found.
Of this influx, no more than 0.01 percent of this, around 7.3 tonnes (roughly 8 tons), include meteorites that are actually visible to the naked eye, and fit – on average – in the palm of your hand.
This means that one Viktor Grokhovsky, a professor at the Ural Federal University, has managed to find a rather sizeable haul all in the same place all at once. Half have gone to a group of Iranian researchers at the University of Kerman, while the other half is heading back to Russia.
In fact, this massive treasure trove of extraterrestrial wonders is even more impressive when you consider that this is the team’s very first venture out into the Iranian badlands. “As this is going to be our first expedition into a desert, it won’t be a lengthy one,” Grokhovsky told Sputnik News back in 2016.
A slice through an iron-rich meteorite, revealing its distinct Widmanstatten pattern of crossing iron-nickel crystals. Albert Russ/Shutterstock
Meteorites, whether more iron-rich or “stony,” are generally silvery or black, and therefore stand out in two major environments – sandy deserts, or icy realms. The dry conditions of both regions also help to preserve the space rocks in as original as condition as possible.
The Lut Desert is now being considered to be one of the best areas in the world for finding meteorites thanks to these unique parameters. In recent years, significant finds have been made, with the Grokhovsky team’s being the latest in what is sure to be a long succession of them.
Not just limited to the Chelyabinsk incident of 2013, Russians and Russia itself – perhaps due to its massive area and prevalence of snowy landscape – appear to be veritable meteorite magnets. Lest we forget the Tunguska explosion back in 1908 excavated a large chunk of Siberia.