Come out tomorrow between 10 AM and 5 PM for meteorite talks and science activities here at the Rice Museum. Admission will be reduced to $5 per person for the day (children 4 and under are still free). Check out the schedule of events below. In addition to the listed events, kids’ crafts will be running and available all day!
Scientific American reports that life began on meteorites. Well, actually the ingredients necessary to start the building blocks of life on this planet did.
The molecules that kick-started life on primordial Earth could have been made in space and delivered by meteorites, according to researchers in Italy. The group synthesised sugars, amino acids and nucleobases with nothing more than formamide, meteorite material and the power of a simulated solar wind, replicating a process they believe cooked up a prebiotic soup long before life existed on Earth.
Formamide is a simple organic compound first suggested as a starting material for the formation of prebiotic biomolecules back in 2001. The chemical has been detected in galactic centres and stellar nurseries, as well as comets and satellites. These latest experiments show that formamide, irradiated by the solar wind…and in the presence of powdered meteorites, gave rise to amino acids, carboxylic acids, sugars and nucleosides—the building blocks of DNA and RNA.
The scientists speculate that this could mean that life formed on other planets might share similarities with the life formed on earth.
The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals features many meteorites on exhibit discovered all around the world from Russia, Argentina, Namibia, the United States, and Australia. The extensive meteorite exhibit was put together by the Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory from the Geology Department of Portland State University.
Take a moment as you enter the main gallery area near the entrance to run your fingers across the large Gibeon meteorite found in Africa for a bone chilling sensation. Made mostly of iron, touch it and know that you’ve actually touched space metal and maybe even the ingredients to life on this planet.
Science Daily reports that planetary scientists from Curtin University found that a unique volcanic meteorite recovered in Western Australia may reveal the violent history of our solar system.
Associate Professor Fred Jourdan, along with colleagues Professor Phil Bland and Dr Gretchen Benedix from Curtin’s Department of Applied Geology, believe the meteorite is evidence that a series of collisions of asteroids occurred more than 3.4 billion years ago.
“This meteorite is definitely one-of-a-kind,” Dr Jourdan said.
“Nearly all meteorites we locate come from Vesta, the second largest asteroid in the solar system. But after studying the meteorite’s composition and orbit, it appears it derived from a large, unidentified asteroid that was split apart during the collisions.”
The research team dated the meteorite with the argon-argon technique, a well-known method for dating impact crater events, to offer a glimpse of the asteroid’s impact history.
Falling to earth in 2007 and believed to originate from Vesta, the scientific team found that the meteorite had not a single impact after 3.4 billion years ago until it arrived on earth, and they recorded three impact events between 3.6 billion and 3.4 billion years ago. This information confirms that some of the bombardment history of the solar system ended after 3.4 billion years, helping scientists with the timeline of the evolution of our region of space.
You can read more about this discovery on the report from Curtin University.
The Rice Northwest Museum is home to an outstanding collection of meteorites on exhibit in cooperation with the Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory of Portland State University. Each May, the museum celebrates the Annual Meteorite and Family Fun Day with extensive special exhibits, demonstrations, lectures, and more.
Interested in learning more about meteorites? Read our Meteorite article and visit the museum to touch the Gibeon Meteorite from Africa.