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Meteorite hunters, Scientists set to scour Antarctica for rare space rocks

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Meteor hunters take to Antarctica

Why scientists are on the way to Antarctica to hunt for meteors

Scientists are set to scour the frozen wastes of Antarctica in an audacious attempt to discover the lost meteorites.

Experts from the University of Manchester are planning a daring mission to search for space rocks on the icy continent. Meteorites, they explain, can shed light on the Solar System formation of iron meteorites, in particular, providing valuable information about the formation of planets.

Earth is the most southern continent could turn out to be very fruitful for the meteorite research. Of more than 35,000 meteorites included in collections around the world, approximately two-thirds are recovered from Antarctica, according to the BBC.

METEOR IS CREDITED TO BRIGHT LIGHT, SOUND, RATTLING, MICHIGAN

While dark-colored non-metallic meteorites are relatively easy to recognize on the white expanse of Antarctica, the researchers note that iron meteorite found in Antarctica are significantly less than in other parts of the world. Experts think that the missing meteorites may be only a few centimeters below the surface of the ice. Warmed by the Sun, the iron-rich meteorites probably melt the ice around them, causing them to sink and become trapped in the ice.

File photo of a satellite view of Antarctica is seen in this undated NASA photo handout obtained by Reuters February 6, 2012. (REUTERS/NASA/handout via Reuters)

Working with the British Antarctic Survey, the scientists will make use of specialist metal detection technology for scanning of three sites in Antarctica. A first visit to the old continent will take place in 2019 with the main expedition will probably take place in the following year.

“We now have the opportunity to begin an exciting scientific adventure,” said Dr. Geoffrey Evatt, an applied mathematician at the University of Manchester and a member of the research team, in a statement. “If successful, our expeditions, scientists will for the decoding of the origin of the solar system and cement the uk as a leader in meteoritics and planetary science.”

METEORITE HUNTERS FIND THE FIRST PIECES OF THE MICHIGAN FIREBALL

The BBC reports that the scientists’ technology recently underwent a successful test in Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the arctic Ocean.

File photo – Glaciers are to be seen in Half Moon Bay, Antarctica, Mar. 18, 2018. (REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini)

Meteorites that land in Antarctica are gradually transported by the ice movement in the direction of the continent’s coast, according to the BBC. However, natural barriers such as mountains, to prevent their ice-bound trip to the sea, potentially providing fertile hunting ground for scientists.

A research paper describes the expedition is published in the journal Nature Communications.

ARIZONA METEORITE FETCHES RECORD-BREAKING $237,500 ON AN AUCTION

A meteor is a small piece of the asteroid or comet. When it is in the atmosphere of the Earth, is it a meteor or a fireball or shooting star. The pieces of rock that hit the ground, valuable to collectors, are the meteorites.

Earlier this year, a meteor made headlines when it flashed through the air in Michigan. The burning fireball sent meteorite hunters scrambling to find fragments of the rare space rock.

Depending on their size and material, meteorites can be lucrative. “Because meteorites are so scarce, they are priced and sold by the gram”, says the Meteorlab website.

STUDY CONFIRMS KING TUT’S DAGGER WAS MADE WITH IRON FROM A METEORITE

Common iron meteorite prices are generally between 50 cents and $5 per gram, according to Meteorlab. Stone meteorites, however, are much scarcer and for a price between $2 and $20 per gram. A type of stony-iron meteorite called a pallasite is of the greatest interest to private collectors, according to Geology.com.

Earlier this year a large-70-lb-iron meteorite sold at auction for an incredible $237,500.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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