How To Collect And Identify Micrometeorites

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I had a plan. I even publicly announced it (though that was never my intention). I had been saving old hard drives with the intention of extracting the super powerful magnets from them. I was looking into rain barrels. The place we just moved into has a large roof that funnels all the water down into one drain.

It would have been a simple matter to use the magnets to collect all the little bits of magnetic stuff that falls on the house over time, from the sky. And, since most of these bits of magnetic stuff are iron meteorites, I’d be able to collect a zillion meteorites every year! Bwa ha ha ha!!!

But then I read In Search of Stardust: Amazing Micrometeorites and Their Terrestrial Imposters by micrometeorite expert Jon Larsen.

It turns out that while micrometeorites do in fact fall on us at a regular rate, and some of them are attracted to magnets, the vast majority of magnetic bits that land on us from the sky are other things.

Anything that involves a lot of kinetic energy, ferrous metals, heat, etc. can spew a small amount of metal bits into the dust in the air. Driving. Burning trash. Stuff they do on construction sites. Most of that dust does not go very far. But, up the street from me right now, there is a work crew using big saws to cut through asphalt pavement and concrete to open a culvert system to fix a sink hole. That is going to throw bits of dust, some of which is ferrous rock that is being melted by the fast moving saw blade, into the air far enough to make it over to my roof. That particular operation will probably not donate a fake meteorite to my collection, but all the construction in the area will collectively spew candidates. Even closer to home there is a large crew of law cutters. In a few minutes they’ll take out those infernal blower and start blowing crap around everywhere. Whatever microbeads of melted ferrous junk local construction crews have spewed around get to fly up into the air again, and some of them will find a spot on the roof of a would be micrometeorite collector!

But mot of all is the fireworks. A very short distance from my house, maybe a football field length if that, is the stating ground for what I’m pretty sure is the largest fireworks display in the state, or at least, in the top three, and thus, one of the largest ones in the country. Fireworks produce zillions and zillions of faux micrometeorites with each explosion. They are probably all over the neighborhood. They are probably all over my house. The distance from my house to the launching pad is less than the distance from the launching pad to the height at which the fireworks explode, and I’m roughly down wind.

So much for me finding micrometeorites! And, what am I going to do with all these old hard drives???

Anyway, despite my personal disappointment with respect to this project, In Search of Stardust: Amazing Micrometeorites and Their Terrestrial Imposters is a wonderful and interesting book by a true self made expert. From the publishers:

Tiny pieces of space rock called micrometeorites are everywhere on Earth. In Search of Stardust shows you how to find them!

The solar system is a dusty place. Every day approximately 100 metric tons of cosmic dust collides with Earth, mainly in the form of micrometeorites. Most of these mineral particles (iron, nickel, etc.) are smaller than grains of sand, and they are falling down on us all the time and all over the globe. Still, little is known about these exotic extraterrestrials.

In Search of Stardust is the first comprehensive popular science book about micrometeorites. It’s also a photo documentary comprising more than 1,500 previously unpublished images: the first atlas of micrometeorites, hundreds of which are depicted here in high-resolution color microscopic photography and in scanning electron microscope imagery.

Author Jon Larsen shows readers how and where to look for micrometeorites, explains the history of micrometeoritics, and offers chapters about micrometeorite formation, classification, and analysis. Thanks to Larsen’s work, for the first time it is now possible for anyone to find these amazing tiny stones from space.

For more than a century it was believed these incredible space objects could be found only in pristine, unsullied environs like Antarctica and ocean floors. Larsen became the first to break the code and find micrometeorites in populated areas — in fact, they can be found in the nearest rain gutter. In the book Larsen explains how anyone with a bit of inexpensive equipment can find their own micrometeorites.

It was recently discovered that King Tut’s dagger was forged from a chunk of a meteorite. What else is made of extraterrestrial rock? Join the hunt!

About the Author: A guitarist, composer, record producer, and painter, Jon Larsen began researching micrometeorites in 2009. His breakthrough came in February 2015 with the verification of the world’s first micrometeorite discovered in a populated area. In January 2016, Dr. Matthew Genge at the Natural History Museum in London evaluated and verified Jon Larsen’s collection of “urban micrometeorites.” Larsen resides in As, Norway.


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One thought on “How To Collect And Identify Micrometeorites

  1. Hi Greg, I just came across your blog from Jon’s post on Facebook. I live in Minneapolis as well and have a some micrometeorites that I would love to show you if you are at all interested.
    Cheers and great blogs all around!

    Scott

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