Meteorites – 25th October 2007

In Alan Longstaff’s talk What have meteorites ever done for us?, we heard a great deal about the composition and structure of meteorites, about element and isotope ratios, chondrules, Widmanstatten patterns, and much else. Meteorites are clearly fascinating and worthy of study, but the real surprise is in just how much they can tell us about the very early stages of our Solar System’s formation. By carefully lining up the evidence it is possible to make a case, not only that the formation process was initiated by a nearby supernova, but also what type of supernova was most likely responsible. By comparing meteorites with lunar and terrestrial rocks it’s possible to date the event that formed the Earth-Moon system. By studying isotope ratios in an ancient Martian meteorite it is possible to challenge the presumption that Mars experienced a long wet period early in its history. Much has been learned by studying meteorites, and there is very likely a great deal more yet to be learned.

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