An Evening with Astronaut Story Musgrave

Event Phone: 503-647-2418

The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals is pleased to announce famed astronaut Story Musgrave will be speaking on October 26, 2019 regarding the importance of STEM education. The event will be held in the OMSI Planetarium. Musgrave will relate his own inspirational story, from a challenging upbringing (more…)


Meteorite and Family Fun Day is May 23

Asteroid, meteor, meteorite: what’s the difference? Come find out on May 23rd at our Meteorite and Family Fun Day! The event runs from 10 AM through 5 PM and features talks by an expert, meteorite identification, and fun activities for kids. Admission is reduced to $5 for all visitors (children 4 and under are free).

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Dick Pugh of the Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory at Portland State University will be giving talks at 11 AM and 1 PM, exploring famous meteorite falls as well as meteorite science. If you have a possible meteorite you’d like him to identify, please try to arrive before 2 PM.

Kids will enjoy touching real meteorites found in locations all over the world. Additional science activities and crafts will be fun for the whole family!

Meteorites Bring the Building Blocks of Life

Meteorite Day at the Museum May 23, 2015 Visit us at the Rice NW Museum on Saturday, May 23, for our annual Meteorite Day. There will be guest lectures and special events for the family 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.

Gibeon Meteorite at the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals.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.

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The Meteorite

The Rice Northwest Rock and Mineral Museum is home to many “out of this world” meteorites, most of them prepared and presented by the Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory of Portland State University. On a visit to the museum, you will have a chance to touch our amazing Gibeon Meteorite from Africa. There is so much iron in that meteorite, it feels really cold to the touch.

Meteorites are naturally occurring objects that come from space and survive penetrating the Earth’s atmosphere. Most meteorites originate in the asteroid (an object in space too small to be a planet) belt between Mars and Jupiter, but some meteorites are pieces of Mars or the moon.

Every May, the Museum celebrates our annual Meteorite and Family Fun Day. Until them, let’s learn more about meteorites.

There are three main types of meteorites: stony, stony-iron and iron.

The most abundant type of meteorite is the stony meteorite, which accounts for over 90% of all recorded meteorite falls. The subgroup chondrites are most abundant. Iron meteorites account for ~5% of all meteorite falls.

Meteorite sizes vary greatly from small (dust) to large (5 to 7 miles wide). The frequency with which the Earth is bombarded by meteorites depends on the meteorite’s size. Small meteorites impact the Earth very frequently, whereas large meteorites impact much more rarely.

Meteorites are named after the locations where they are found. Oregon meteorites include an iron meteorite from Klamath Falls, a stony meteorite from Salem, an iron meteorite from Sams Valley, and an iron meteorite from Willamette.

Here is information about the specific types of meteorites.

Stony Meteorites

The stony meteorites are composed of mostly rocky material (silicate minerals) and contain a small amount of iron and nickel. There are two main types of stony meteorites – chondrites (have never been melted) and achondrites (melted and thus differentiated such that heavy metals sank to the core and the lighter silicates floated).

Stony-Iron Meteorites

The stony-irons are made up of an almost equal mixture of iron-nickel metal and silicate minerals. Pallasites are a common example of stony-iron meteorites.

Iron Meteorites

Iron meteorites are composed primarily of iron and nickel metal. These meteorites most likely represent the metallic cores of asteroid bodies.

More Information on Meteorites

To help you learn more about meteorites in general, here are some helpful educational resources and articles.