Schlafly Bottleworks, Maplewood, MO
Meteorites and Moon Rocks
Research Associate Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Moderated by: Cynthia Wichelman, M.D.
On any cloudless, moonless night in a place distant from man-made lighting, a keen observer who invests an hour lying on a picnic table looking up will see several meteors. Most meteors do not produce meteorites because the object causing the meteor ablates away in the atomosphere before falling to earth. About every two months, though, somewhere in the world a large meteor is observed, meteorites from the object land on Earth, and someone is fortunate to find them. In the meteorite world, such meteorites are called “falls.” Only 2.4% of known meteorites are falls; the rest are “finds,” for example, a rock or chunk of iron found by a farmer in a corn field.
Most (~99.8%) meteorites are primitive materials orbiting the Sun as part of an asteroid belt. Nine years after the last Apollo mission brought rocks from the Moon to Earth, however, the first rock recognized to be a meteorite from the Moon was found in Antarctica. Since then about 84 others have been found. About 66 meteorites from Mars are also known. Of the martian meteorites, 5 have been observed falls — the first in France in 1815, and the last in Morocco in 2011. Curiously, no lunar meteorite has been observed to fall — all have been finds and all have been found in deserts.
Professor Korotev has been studying Apollo lunar samples since 1970, and has studied nearly all of the lunar meteorites. He has collected meteorites in Antarctica and was a member of a team that found one martian and one lunar meteorite. He hopes that someday someone will walk into his office with a lunar meteorite found in the U.S.
Science On Tap is a place where, for the price of a beverage, anyone can come to explore the latest ideas in science and technology. Meetings take place outside a traditional academic context, in the Crown Room at Schlafly Bottleworks.
Meetings are held on the last Wednesday of the month during the academic year, usually from 7:00 - 8:30 PM. The standard format is as follows: about 45 minutes of presentation, followed by discussion until 8:30 PM. Seating is limited to the first 100 people. No reservations accepted.
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