Is It Possible To Pick Up A Meteorite That Has Just Fallen?


According to NASA, about 48.5 tons (44,000 kilograms) of meteoritic material falls on Earth every day from the universe.

That is, every year on the surface, there are from 18,000 to 84,000 new meteorites, they take from 36 to 166 per one million square kilometers.

Read also: Asteroid Bigger Than Eiffel Tower Going To Hit Earth On April 13, 2029

Is It Possible To Pick Up A Meteorite That Has Just Fallen?
Is It Possible To Pick Up A Meteorite That Has Just Fallen?

Wide ranges of estimates are associated with the complexity of organizing such observations, but they are quite reliable.

Before falling on Earth, meteorites travel millions and even billions of years in outer space at extremely low temperatures, often close to absolute zero.

The temperature in outer space is 2.73 K or -270.42° C, in fact, it is the temperature of the cosmic microwave background radiation, which is also called relic radiation. It is one of the results of the Big Bang.

Read also: Why Meteorites Burn In The Atmosphere, But Skydivers Jumping Almost From The Space-No?

When flying at speeds above 2800 km / h (Mach 2.4), the casing of a supersonic aircraft becomes so hot (≈ 150° C) that it is simply impossible to touch it, and the pilots are forced to wait until it cools down.

This is due to air friction that the aircraft experiences during high-speed flight.

The paradox is that the surface of meteorites ablates, while the body of the aircraft retains heat.

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A piece of the asteroid enters the atmosphere at speeds from 11 to 72 km/s; during its flight, it crosses various layers of the Earth’s atmosphere and can experience temperature changes.

If the temperature in the thermosphere can increase to 1700° C, then in the underlying layers, such as the mesosphere (the coldest layer of the atmosphere) and the stratosphere, the temperature can drop to -143° C and -56° C respectively.

Meteorites are poor conductors of heat, and in the process of ablation (under the influence of which they fall most of the way through the atmosphere), only their outer layers (melting core) evaporate. In this case, the inner part remains the same cold.

Ablation is a very effective method of heat removal. It is reasonable to assume that a meteorite that has just fallen will be slightly warm and in several seconds or minutes, its temperature will drop due to the internal cold.

However, conflicting information on objects that were able to be investigated immediately after the fall is documented.

Some of the meteorites were very hot, they drowned snow around, or burned the surrounding grass. They kept warm for several hours, and it was impossible to touch them because they burned hands. Among them was Alfianello L6 Chondrite weighing 228 kg.

Dhurmsala meteorite
Dhurmsala meteorite

But there is also evidence of cold meteorites with layers of hoarfrost on the surface, such as a 150 kilogram Dhurmsala meteorite.

In any case, before touching a newly fallen meteorite, from which it is quite possible to get either a thermal or cold burn, it is better to wear gloves.

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