METEORITE

METEOR/METEORITE

by: Charles O’Dale

  1. INTRODUCTION
  2. METEORITE CATEGORIES
  3. DATING METEORITES
  4. METEORITE GLOSSARY
  5. REFERENCE

1. INTRODUCTION

METEOR

Incoming meteoroids enter the earth’s atmosphere at 11 km/sec to 72 km/sec. Ram pressure between the air and the object create a very high temperature plasma at the front of the meteor. This plasma becomes visible at between about 120 km and 75 km above the earth. Energy goes into melting and vaporizing stone and metal. Energy is shed as material ablates.  In a couple of seconds most meteors are have been consumed. The left-over debris is called meteoric dust or just meteor dust.

Iron meteorite Stony meteorite Earth’s crust
Iron 91%
Nickel 8.5%
Cobalt 0.6%Source:
Encyclopaedia Britannica
Oxygen 36%
Iron 26%
Silicon 18%
Magnesium 14%
Aluminum 1.5%
Nickel 1.4%
Calcium 1.3%
Oxygen 49%
Silicon 26%
Aluminum 7.5%
Iron 4.7%
Calcium 3.4%
Sodium 2.6%
Potassium 2.4%
Magnesium 1.9%
Courtesy of American Meteor Society

If a meteoroid’s size, composition, speed and entry angle allow it to survive  the “meteor” phase of entry, it will slow to about 4 km/sec and enter “dark flight” at 20 km to 15 km above earth. Light emission from incandescence and ion recombination ceases. The meteor will arch into a more vertical trajectory, slow to terminal velocity of  about 0.1 km/sec and fall as a meteorite.
If the meteoroid is of sufficient size to keep it’s hyper-velocity  >12 km/sec through the atmosphere becoming an impactor, it will impact the ground and explode.  The kinetic energy of an object of mass m traveling at a speed v is = (½)mv2, provided v is much less than the speed of light.

Incoming meteoroids enter the earth’s atmosphere at 11 km/sec to 72 km/sec. Ram pressure between the air and the object create a very high temperature plasma at the front of the meteor. This plasma becomes visible at between about 120 km and 75 km above the earth. Energy goes into melting and vaporizing stone and metal. Energy is shed as material ablates.

The most common emission lines from meteors originate from iron (Fe), oxygen (O), magnesium (Mg), sodium (Na), nitrogen (N), and calcium (Ca). Less frequently seen are the emission lines of hydrogen (H), Silicon (Si), Manganese (Mn), and Chromium (Cr).

In a couple of seconds most meteors are have been consumed. The left-over debris is called meteoric dust or just meteor dust.

Perseid meteor shower. Most ionization trails become visible at around 95 kilometres up.

METEORITE

If a meteoroid’s size, composition, speed and entry angle allow it to survive  the “meteor” phase of entry, it will slow to about 4 km/sec and enter “dark flight” at 20 km to 15 km above earth. Light emission from incandescence and ion recombination ceases. The meteor will arch into a more vertical trajectory, slow to terminal velocity of  about 0.1 km/sec and fall as a meteorite.

100,000 million meteoroids enter Earth’s atmosphere every day, almost all very small and burn up in atmosphere. Needs to weigh 350 tons to come through the atmosphere largely unaffected.

If the meteoroid is of sufficient size to keep it’s hyper-velocity  >12 km/sec through the atmosphere becoming an IMPACTOR, it will impact the ground and explode.  The kinetic energy of an object of mass m traveling at a speed v is = mv2/2, provided v is much less than the speed of light.

“Shrapnel” Whitecourt Meteorite, an iron meteorite..

2. METEORITE CATEGORIES

 


STONES (aerolites) — (3.5 g/mL) composed mostly of ferromagnesian (iron and magnesium) silicate minerals, usually with some metal in the form of grains.

    • ACHONDRITE: does not contain chondrules and are poor in metal. The four largest groups of achondrites are:
        • AUBRITES: are the most reduced achondrites, are breccias consisting of fragments of virtually Fe-free enstatite.
        • URELITES: are composed of olivine and pyroxene with interstitial graphite and formed as residues from partial melting.
        • ANGRITES: are basaltic rocks composed largely of Al–Ti-diopside.
        • HOWARDITE-EUCRITE-DIOGENITE (abbreviated HED):
          Howardites are eucrite–diogenite breccias, :
          Eucrites are basalts and gabbros that have been modified by metamorphism and impacts
          Diogenites are composed of orthopyroxenite.

          Except for a handful of eucrites with aberrant oxygen isotope compositions, the HED meteorites are probably derived from the brightest asteroid, Vesta.

    • CHONDRITES: contain generally rounded masses called chondrules embedded in a ground mass. Also 5-25% nickel-iron and often up to 5% troilite. Chonrites are further divided into carbonaceous, enstatite and ordinary.
      • CARBONACEOUS – primitive , evidence of water,  some contain organic compounds. Many contain calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions (CAIs) . The very largest CAIs are up to 2–3 cm in size, type (CV3), but most CAIs are < 1 mm in maximum size.;
      • ENSTATITE or E-chondritres are rich in enstatite (MgSiO3);
      • ORDINARY;
        – H-Chondrites (high iron content, 16 to 21% free metal):
        – L-Chondrites (low iron content, 7 to 12% free metal):
        – LL-Chondrites (less than 7% free metal).
    • ULTRAMAFIC ACHONDRITE: A meteorite that contains interstitial carbon in the form of graphite or diamond.
    • SNC METEORITES (Shergotty, Nakhla and Chassigny) — Martian meteorites. The composition of gas bubbles trapped deep in the meteorites’ interiors is similar to that of the martian atmosphere measured by the Viking 1 and 2 landers (Phillips, Astronomy May 1997).
    • LUNAR METEORITES (Lunaites) – A lunar meteorite originating from the Moon. A meteorite hitting the Moon is normally classified as a transient lunar phenomenon.

A class of stony meteorites with chemical compositions similar to that of the Sun and characterized by the presence of chondrules (see definition below). Chondrites come from asteroids that did not melt when formed and are divided into four classes:

1. ORDINARY – H, L, LL
The L ordinary chondrites are composed of silicate minerals (mostly olivine and pyroxene, but feldspar as well), metallic nickel-iron, and iron sulfide (called troilite). Most L chondrites are severely shocked-damaged, probably by a large impact on the asteroid in which they formed.

2. RUMURUTI – R
Rumuruti contain little metallic Fe-Ni, their enrichments in 17O are higher than those of ordinary chondrites.

3. ENSTATITE – EH, EL
Enstatite chondrites, a rare type that formed under very reducing conditions and are composed primarily of a magnesium silicate, low-iron (EL) and high-iron (HL).

4. CARBONACEOUS – CI, CM, CO, CR, CV, CK, CB, CH
Carbonaceous chondrites contain water-bearing minerals and carbon compounds including a variety of organic molecules such as amino acids. For example, the CI group of carbonaceous chondrites are closest in composition to the photosphere (visible surface) of the Sun.

CHONDRULE
Roughly spherical objects found in a type of meteorite called chondrites. Most chondrules are 0.5 to 2 millimeters in size and are composed of olivine and pyroxene, with smaller amounts of glass and iron-nickel metal. Two main chondrule types have been identified;

  • Type I contain only small amounts of oxidized iron (FeO); olivine crystals in them contain only about 2 mole percent of the iron-rich-olivine fayalite (Fe2SiO4) end member.
  • Type II chondrules contain much more FeO; olivine crystals in them typically contain 10-30 mole percent fayalite.

The shapes of the mineral grains in them indicate that chondrules were once molten droplets floating freely in space.

CHONDRULE (shocked)
Six stages of shock (S 1 to S6) are defined, based on shock effects in olivine and plagioclase as recognized by thin section microscopy. The characteristic shock effects of each shock stage are: S 1 (unshocked)-sharp optical extinction of olivine; S2 (very weakly shocked)-undulatory extinction of olivine; S3 (weakly shocked)-planar fractures in olivine; S4 (moderately shocked)-mosaicism in olivine; S5 (strongly shocked)-isotropization of plagioclase (maskelynite) and planar deformation features in olivine; and S6 (very strongly shocked)-recrystallization of olivine, sometimes combined with phase transformations (ringwoodite and/or phases produced by dissociation reactions). S6 effects are always restricted to regions adjacent to melted portions of a sample which is otherwise only strongly shocked.

Olivine (a) with sharp extinction in the unshocked H3(Sl) chondrite Dhajala; (b) with weak undulatory extinction and irregular fractures in the very weakly shocked H4(S2) chondrite Avanhandava; and (c) with undulatory extinction, irregular fractures, and rare planar fractures (one set of three parallel fractures in grain marked by arrow) in the weakly shocked H4(S3) chondrite Farmville. Transmitted light, crossed polars. Widths of images: (a) and (b) 710 µm: (c) 650 µm.

Shock metamorphism of ordinary chondrites
D. Stoffler, K. Keil, E. Scott 1991

Organic Meteorite
Direct evidence of complex prebiotic chemistry from a water-rich world in the outer solar system is provided by the 4.5-billion-year-old halite crystals hosted in the Zag and Monahans (1998) meteorites. This study offers the first comprehensive organic analysis of the soluble and insoluble organic compounds found in the millimeter-sized halite crystals containing brine inclusions and sheds light on the nature and activity of aqueous fluids on a primitive parent body.
Organic matter in extraterrestrial water-bearing salt crystals
Chan et al

CAI
Calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions (CAIs) are found in chondritic meteorites. The very largest CAIs are up to 2–3 cm in size, type (CV3) meteorites, but most CAIs are < 1 mm in maximum size.

Three types of CAI:

  • A CAI – dominated by melilite, (Ca, Na)₂[SiO₇] (>75%) with spinel,  MgAl₂O₄ (5 to 20%) and minimal clinopyroxene;
  • B CAI – crystallized from partly molten droplets (less primitive than A CAI);
  • C CAI – coarse grained rich in anorthite, CaAl₂Si₂O₈ and contain little melilite.

Rubinite was identified as tiny crystals in calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions (CAIs), and is among the first solids formed in the solar nebula.  As the inner regions of the protoplanetary disk cooled below 1650°C (3,000° F),  those elements condensed out of the hot vapor to form delicate mineral crystals. The primary mineralogy of CAIs is remarkably similar to the phases predicted to condense out of a hot solar vapor during cooling

A close-up of an Allende meteorite fragment shows the white calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions and the darker chondrules. Scientists believe the former are the first rocks in the solar system, and the latter helped form the planets. Chip Clark/National Meteorite Collection/Smithsonian Institution

CAIs range in shape from irregular, highly porous aggregates of tiny crystals, to strings of crystals that stretch out across several mm of meteorite matrix with expanses of matrix intervening, to nearly spherical, densely crystalline objects. These diverse morphologies reflect diverse and complex histories, including deformation due to impact processes.

CALCIUM·RICH MINERALS in the inclusion in the Allende meteorite appear in this scanning electron micrograph. The fact that there are distinct well·formed crystals projecting into the cavity suggests that the minerals were formed by condensation from a vapor. The width of the field of view is about eight micrometers. (L.Grossman 1975 SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN)

The most precise ages for CAIs are Pb-Pb measurements from the Efremovka CV3 chondrite, at 4.5672±0.0006 Ga (Amelin, Y., Krot, A. N., Hutcheon, I. D., & Ulyanov, A. A. 2002, Science, 297,2).

IRONS (siderites) — (8.0 g/mL) composed chiefly of iron-nickel alloys kamacite and taenite. May also contain plesite, troilite, schreibersite and graphite. Irons are divided into three categories based on the percentage of nickel present, hexahedrites, octohedrites and ataxites .

    • HEXAHEDRITES – 5 to 10% nickel with nickel poor ataxites — contain less than 6% nickel and consist of kamacite only.
    • OCTOHEDRITES — 7-13% nickel. Polished and etched specimens show Widmanstatten figures. Divided into fine, medium and coarse. Fine: kamacite bands 0.05 – 0.5 mm wide. Medium: kamacite bands 0.5 – 2.0 mm wide. Coarse: kamacite bands wider than 2.0 mm.
    • ATAXITES — 16 to 30% nickel and consist of pure taenite or an irregular mixture of kamacite and taenite.

STONY-IRONS (siderolites) — represent the mantles of differentiated parent bodies containing approximately equal amounts of stony and metal materials. They are divided into two main groups, mesosiderites and palasites.

    • MESOSIDERITES: fragmented mantle containing pyrexene-plagioclase stony-irons.
    • PALASITES: from the core/mantle boundary composed of olivine and nickel-irons.

3. DATING METEORITES

Dr. Yuri Amelin at the Royal Ontario Museum dated a couple of chondrite meteorites (Allende and Efremovka) the earliest minerals to condense out of the nebular gas cloud that eventually formed our solar system . He used uranium and lead dating in the mineral orthopyroxene. The result 4,567.4 +/- 0.5 million years, the oldest mineral age ever measured makes the date slightly older than previous dates and ten times more precise.

The Ages of Meteorites

Type Number
Dated
Method Age (billions
of years)
Chondrites (CM, CV, H, L, LL, E) 13 Sm-Nd 4.21 +/- 0.76
Carbonaceous chondrites 4 Rb-Sr 4.37 +/- 0.34
Chondrites (undisturbed H, LL, E) 38 Rb-Sr 4.50 +/- 0.02
Chondrites (H, L, LL, E) 50 Rb-Sr 4.43 +/- 0.04
H Chondrites (undisturbed) 17 Rb-Sr 4.52 +/- 0.04
H Chondrites 15 Rb-Sr 4.59 +/- 0.06
L Chondrites (relatively undisturbed) 6 Rb-Sr 4.44 +/- 0.12
L Chondrites 5 Rb-Sr 4.38 +/- 0.12
LL Chondrites (undisturbed) 13 Rb-Sr 4.49 +/- 0.02
LL Chondrites 10 Rb-Sr 4.46 +/- 0.06
E Chondrites (undisturbed) 8 Rb-Sr 4.51 +/- 0.04
E Chondrites 8 Rb-Sr 4.44 +/- 0.13
Eucrites (polymict) 23 Rb-Sr 4.53 +/- 0.19
Eucrites 11 Rb-Sr 4.44 +/- 0.30
Eucrites 13 Lu-Hf 4.57 +/- 0.19
Diogenites 5 Rb-Sr 4.45 +/- 0.18
Iron (plus iron from St. Severin) 8 Re-Os 4.57 +/- 0.21
After Dalrymple (1991, p. 291); duplicate studies on identical meteorite types omitted.

Dalrymple, G. Brent, 1991. The Age of the Earth, California, Stanford University Press. 474 pp. ISBN 0-8047-1569-6

Dalrymple, G. Brent, 1986. Radiometric Dating, Geologic Time, And The Age Of The Earth: A Reply To “Scientific” Creationism, U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 86-110. 76 pp.

Dalrymple, G. Brent, 1984. “How Old Is the Earth? A Reply to “Scientific Creationism””, in Proceedings of the 63rd Annual Meeting of the Pacific Division, AAAS


Lead Isotopic Ages of Chondrules and Calcium-Aluminum–Rich Inclusions

Yuri Amelin,  Alexander N. Krot, Ian D. Hutcheon, Alexander A. Ulyanov

The lead-lead isochron age of chondrules in the CR chondrite Acfer 059 is
4564.7 0.6 million years ago (Ma), whereas the lead isotopic age of calciumaluminum–rich inclusions (CAIs)in the CV chondrite Efremovka is 4567.2 0.6 Ma. This gives an interval of 2.5 1.2 million years (My)between formation of the CV CAIs and the CR chondrules and indicates that CAI- and chondruleforming events lasted for at least 1.3 My. This time interval is consistent with a 2- to 3-My age difference between CR CAIs and chondrules inferred from the differences in their initial 26Al/27Al ratios and supports the chronological significance of the 26Al-26Mg systematics.

Abstract
The lead-lead isochron age of chondrules in the CR chondrite Acfer 059 is 4564.7 ± 0.6 million years ago (Ma), whereas the lead isotopic age of calcium-aluminum–rich inclusions (CAIs) in the CV chondrite Efremovka is 4567.2 ± 0.6 Ma. (Amelin Y. 2002)

Meteorites, most of which are fragments of asteroids, are very interesting objects to study because they provide important evidence about the age, composition, and history of the early solar system. There are many types of meteorites. Some are from primitive asteroids whose material is little modified since they formed from the early solar nebula. Others are from larger asteroids that got hot enough to melt and send lava flows to the surface. A few are even from the Moon and Mars. The most primitive type of meteorites are called chondrites, because they contain little spheres of olivine crystals known as chondrules. Because of their importance, meteorites have been extensively dated radiometrically; the vast majority appear to be 4.4–4.6 Ga (billion years) old. Some meteorites, because of their mineralogy, can be dated by more than one radiometric dating technique, which provides scientists with a powerful check of the validity of the results. The results from three meteorites are shown in Table 1. Many more, plus a discussion of the different types of meteorites and their origins, can be found in Dalrymple (1991).

There are 3 important things to know about the ages in Table 1. The first is that each meteorite was dated by more than one laboratory — Allende by 2 laboratories, Guarena by 2 laboratories, and St Severin by four laboratories. This pretty much eliminates any significant laboratory biases or any major analytical mistakes. The second thing is that some of the results have been repeated using the same technique, which is another check against analytical errors. The third is that all three meteorites were dated by more than one method — two methods each for Allende and Guarena, and four methods for St Severin. This is extremely powerful verification of the validity of both the theory and practice of radiometric dating. In the case of St Severin, for example, we have 4 different natural clocks (actually 5, for the Pb-Pb method involves 2 different radioactive uranium isotopes), each running at a different rate and each using elements that respond to chemical and physical conditions in much different ways. And yet, they all give the same result to within a few percent.

Yuri Amelin, Alexander N. Krot Ian D. Hutcheon Alexander A. Ulyanov Lead Isotopic Ages of Chondrules and Calcium-Aluminum-Rich Inclusions Science 2002

Brent Dalrymple, Radiometric Dating Does Work! Reports of the National Center for Science Education

Krot A.  Dating the Earliest Solids in our Solar System PSRD Discoveries 2002


Private Correspondence with Yuri Amelin RE: Age of Chondrules

Regarding the chondrules in chondrite meteorites, have you measured an age
difference in the chondrules contained in a single meteorite? If so, what
was the greatest age difference you measured?
…………………………….
Unfortunately this cannot be done with typical chondrites with U-Pb – the
chondrules are small (typically below 1 milligram) and U concentration is
low – about 10 parts per billion. So the amount of material in a single
chondrule is too small to be split into multiple fractions and construct an
internal isochron. I’ve done this for Gujba – a CB chondrite with
exceptionally large chondrules. Three chondrules gave undistinguishable ages
within 1 m.y.

There have been several studies of this kind using the 26Al-26Mg system.
Since Al and Mg have abundance about a million times higher than U and
radiogenic Pb, tiny fragments can be analyzed and produce meaningful
results. The age variations among chondrule population in Allende  are about 1.5 m.y., well resolved. We can expect that some chondrites have homogeneous (in terms of age) populations of chondrules, and other -heterogeneous, at least that what petrologic data suggest, and isotopic dating confirms it.

Yuri


4. METEORITE GLOSSARY

ablation: Removal of material from a solid object through vaporization.

accretion: The process of building solids from the accumulation of material.

achondrite: Type of stony meteorite characteristic of most stony meteorites that crystallized from magmas. The term means without chondrules.

aerolite: Another name for stony meteorite.

Albite: Silicate mineral of the plagioclase series – NaAl2Si3O8.

Anorthite: Silicate mineral of the plagioclase series – CaAl2Si2O8.

AOA : Amoeboid olivine aggregates are common millimeter size inclusions in carbonaceous chondrite meteorites.

NWA 8577 – Carbonaceous CV3-ox Chondrite

asteroid: Any of the numerous small rocky bodies in orbit around the Sun. Most asteroids reside in the “main belt” between Mars and Jupiter, but some have Earth crossing orbits.

On 9 December 2015, scientists reported that the bright spots on Ceres. One of the spots is located in 80-kilometer diameter Occator Crateran. The spots may be related to a type of salt, particularly a form of brine containing hydrated magnesium sulfate.

ataxite: An iron meteorite consisting of either pure kamacite, an irregular mixture of kamacite and taenite, or pure taenite.

bolide: Exploding fireball – “Fire-ball”; meteor exploding in passing through the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Chelyabinsk meteor was a super bolide caused by an approximately 20-metre near-Earth asteroid that entered Earth’s atmosphere over Russia on 15 February 2013 at about 09:20 YEKT (03:20 UTC), with a speed of 19.16 ± 0.15 kilometres per second (60,000[5]–69,000 km/h or 40,000[5]–42,900 mph). It quickly became a brilliant superbolide meteor over the southern Ural region. The light from the meteor was brighter than the Sun, visible up to 100 km (62 mi) away. It was observed over a wide area of the region and in neighbouring republics. Some eyewitnesses also felt intense heat from the fireball.
Bronzite: Pyroxene with 10-20% FeSiO3.

CAI:

Calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions

    • (CAIs) are found in

chondritic

    • meteorites. CAIs contain magnesium-26, an isotope from the radioactive decay of aluminium-26 (half life of 720,000 years).

Rubinite

    • was identified as tiny crystals in calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions, and is among the first solids formed in the

solar nebula

    • . As the inner regions of the protoplanetary disk cooled below 1650°C (3,000° F),  those elements condensed out of the hot vapor to form delicate mineral crystals. CAIs are light-colored objects rich in

refractory:

    • elements (that condense at a high temperature). Besides calcium and aluminum, this includes magnesium, titanium, and rare earth elements (REE). All share a high temperature origin. Some might be condensates from the solar nebula. Other CAIs might be evaporation residues. G. J. MacPherson

et al

Chondrites and the Protoplanetary Disk

    •  2005
A close-up of an Allende meteorite fragment shows the white calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions and the darker chondrules. Scientists believe the former are the first rocks in the solar system, and the latter helped form the planets. Chip Clark/National Meteorite Collection/Smithsonian Institution

chondrite: Stony meteorite containing chondrules. Chondrite meteorites are aggregates of preplanetary grains and dust, accreted and compacted into rocks at the beginning of the solar system but still preserving their aggregate character as well as the distinctive individual characteristics of all the diverse particles composing them. Among their constituents are calcium-aluminumrich inclusions (CAIs), which are minor in mass fraction (< 5%) but major in significance: CAIs preserve direct clues to the processes and environments that existed during the nebula phase of our solar system, during its first few million years, prior to the formation of planets. Intensive research over more than 30 years has demonstrated that CAIs are the oldest-known objects that formed in the infant solar nebula, that they formed in an environment that was hot and extremely reducing (consistent with hot hydrogen gas), that their elemental compositions are the result of volatility-controlled processes (evaporation-condensation), that their isotopic compositions retain a component of presolar nucleosynthetic origin, and that they record >1–2 million years of complex post-formation history that included repeated melting and secondary alteration both in the nebula and on asteroidal parent bodies.

Chondrite is an abundant class of stony meteorites with chemical compositions similar to that of the Sun and characterized by the presence of chondrules (see definition below). Chondrites come from asteroids that did not melt when formed and are designated as H, L, LL, E, or C depending on chemical compositions. The H, L, and LL types are called ordinary chondrites. The L chondrites are composed of silicate minerals (mostly olivine and pyroxene, but feldspar as well), metallic nickel-iron, and iron sulfide (called troilite). Most L chondrites are severely shocked-damaged, probably by a large impact on the asteroid in which they formed. The E type are called enstatite chondrites, a rare type that formed under very reducing conditions and are composed primarily of a magnesium silicate called enstatite. They are subdivided into the low-iron (EL) chemical group and the high-iron (HL) group. The C –carbonaceous chondrites– contain water-bearing minerals and carbon compounds including a variety of organic molecules such as amino acids. Carbonaceous chondrites are the most primitive meteorites–primitive in a chemical way. For example, the CI group of carbonaceous chondrites are closest in composition to the photosphere (visible surface) of the Sun.

chondrule: Small nearly spherical aggregate of the minerals olivine and/or pyroxene found in large numbers in most stony meteorites (chondrites). Most chondrules are 0.5 to 2 millimeters in size and are composed of olivine and pyroxene, with smaller amounts of glass and iron-nickel metal. Two main chondrule types have been identified. Type I contain only small amounts of oxidized iron (FeO); olivine crystals in them contain only about 2 mole percent of the iron-rich-olivine fayalite (Fe2SiO4) end member. Type II chondrules contain much more FeO; olivine crystals in them typically contain 10-30 mole percent fayalite. The shapes of the mineral grains in them indicate that chondrules were once molten droplets exceeding 1,027° C and floating freely in space.

CRE: Cosmic Ray Exposure, a method to quantify the meteoroid’s  time in space exposed to cosmic rays.

Daubreelite: Mineral found in iron meteorites. Usually associated with troilite. Soluble in nitric acid but not in hydrochloric acid. Chemical formula FeCr2S4.

differation: A process in which denser metal sinks to form an iron-rich core, leaving behind a mantle and/or crust of lighter, silicate-rich material.

end-point: The point where a fireball disappears, often in a shower of “sparks”.

Enstatite: Pyroxene with less than 10% FeSiO3.

etch: To corrode a prepared surface with acid for the purpose of revealing structural details.

FCAI – rare type of CAI. Fractionation, UNidentified nuclear isotope properties. FUN CAIs are characterized by 26Al/27Al ratios much lower than the canonical value of ~5×10-5(at the time of our Solar System’s formation); they also can have large isotopic anomalies in many elements.

fireball: Very bright meteor.

fusion crust: The outer covering of a meteorite produced by solidification of melted surface materials formed as a meteorite passes through the atmosphere.

Graphite: A mineral form of the element carbon.

 

HED: The three linked stony meteorite groups known as the HEDs are howardites, eucrites, and diogenites. They come from asteroid Vesta. (Data collected by NASA’s Dawn Mission, in orbit around Vesta from 2011-2012, strengthed the association between Vesta and HED meteorites.)

          • howardites; polymict breccias containing both eucrite and diogenite fragments plus CM, CI and CR chondrite material;
          • eucrites; contain equal proportions of Ca-rich plagioclase (An96-75) and pigeonite with minor olivine, chromian spinel, silica minerals, ilmenite, FeNi metal, troilite and phosphates;
          • diogenites; orthopyroxene-rich cumulates subdivided into orthopyroxenites and harzburgites containing orthopyroxene (Wo1-3En71-77Fs22-24), olivine, chromite, phosphates, metal and occasional plagioclase.

hexahedrite: Iron meteorite consisting of large cubic crystals of kamacite.

Hypersthene: Silicate mineral of the pyroxene group with the formula (Mg, Fe)SiO3.

iron: Meteorite: Iron meteorites are made, almost completely, of iron and nickel metal. They are chemically distinguished and grouped according to the abundances of the trace elements such as gallium and germanium, as well as nickel. Initially, irons were classified into four groups and were given Roman numerals I, II, III, and IV. Today 13 groups are recognized and designated further by letters A through G according to concentrations of siderophile (“iron-loving”) trace elements. Iron meteorites that do not fit into the groups are called ungrouped. The two iron-nickel alloys in iron meteorites are called kamacite (low-nickel content, usually up to 7.5 wt% nickel) and taenite (high-nickel content, ~20 to 50 wt% nickel). These alloys are rare in terrestrial rocks.

isotope: A combination of similar chemical elements that have different atomic numbers and physical properties.

kamacite: is an alloy of iron and nickel, which is found on earth only in meteorites. The proportion iron:nickel is between 90:10 to 95:5; small quantities of other elements, such as cobalt or carbon may also be present.

Limonite: Hydrous iron oxide having variable composition.

Maghemite: Magnetic variation of the mineral magnetite.

Magnetite: An oxide of iron, Fe3O4.

mesosiderite: Stony-iron meteorite, the stony portion of which consists of the pyroxene and plagioclase minerals.

meteor: The light phenomenon produced by a solid body moving very rapidly through the atmosphere. Popularly called a “shooting star”.

meteorite: A natural solid object from space that retains its identity after having landed on earth. The term is also used to refer to the object in space before colliding with the earth.

meteoriticist: Scientist who is a specialist in the study of meteors and meteorites.

Moldavite: SiO2(+Al2O3) A silica-rich glass (tektite) formed in a burst of heat and energy produced by the impact of a large hypervelocity object with a planet. The rock in the impact area was instantly vaporized by the heat of the impact, then immediately condensed into a molten liquid, and then almost immediately solidified into an amorphous glass. The condensation and solidification were so fast that mineral crystals did not form, and gases were trapped in the moldavite glass.

octahedrite: Most common type of iron meteorite. Contains bands of taenite and kamacite referred to as Widmanstatten structure.

octahedron: A solid geometric form having eight faces.

olivine: The mineral olivine is a magnesium iron silicate abundant in meteorites; (Mg²⁺, Fe²⁺)₂SiO₄. A type of nesosilicate or orthosilicate. It is a common mineral in the Earth’s subsurface but weathers quickly on the surface.

pallasite: A stony-iron meteorite that is a mixture of isolated silicate crystals (usually olivine) surrounded by metal.

path: The projection of the trajectory of a meteor or fireball against the sky as seen by an observer.

Plagioclase: Group of silicate minerals ranging in composition from pure albite to pure anorthite.

planetesimal: Small solid bodies, also protoplanets, within a solar nebula that grow as matter accretes.

Plessite: Nickel-iron mixture of kamacite and taenite.

Pyroxene: General name given to a large group of ferromagnesian silicate minerals abundant in meteorites. The general formula is (Mg, Fe)SiO3.

refractory inclusion: Residues and condensates enriched in elements like calcium, aluminum and titanium found in meteorites. These inclusions are often referred to as Ca-, Al-rich inclusions, or “CAIs.” Most refractory inclusions contain the minerals spinel and melilite and/or hibonite. Refactory inclusions may have formed up to 4 million years before chondrules.

regmaglypts: Shallow depressions resembling thumbprints found on the surface of many meteorites produced by ablation as the meteorite passed through the atmosphere.

Rhabdite: Thin plates of schreibersite appearing as needles on an etched surface of an iron meteorite.

Rubinite (chemical formula: Ca3Ti3+2Si3 O12)

Researchers have identified a new mineral in the oldest solar system solids from primitive meteorites. They’ve named it “rubinite” after Dr. Alan E. Rubin, a pioneering cosmochemist at University of California, Los Angeles. Rubinite was officially approved in March 2017 by the International Mineralogical Association. Credit: Tohoku University
Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-04-mineral-oldest-solar-solids-meteorites.html#jCp

Schreibersite: Hard, metallic white, nickel-iron mineral found only in meteorites. Difficult to dissolve in acids and therefore, brilliant on the etched surface of an iron meteorite. Resembles taenite in appearance. Its chemical formula is (Fe, Ni, Co)3P.

siderite: Another name for an iron meteorite.

siderolite: Another name for a stony-iron meteorite.

solar nebula: The sun’s accretion disk.

SNC: Shergotty Nakhla and Chassigny (Martian Meteorite)

specific gravity: Ratio of the density of a material to water.

Spinel: MgAl2O4, magnesium aluminum oxide mineral, with Fe+2 able to substitute for Mg and with Cr or Fe+3 able to substitute for Al.

Taenite (Fe,Ni): : A metal found in most meteorites consisting of iron with 27 to 65% nickel. More acid resistant than kamacite, and therefore, more brilliant upon the etched surface of an iron meteorite. Often occurs as thin bands bordering kamacite bands in octahedrites.

train: Anything remaining along the trajectory of a meteor or fireball after the head of the meteor has passed. May be light, dust, vapor, ionization.

trajectory: True line of flight of a meteor or fireball relative to the earth.

Troilite: Bronze-yellow mineral (FeS) found in meteorites. Occurs as rounded nodules or thin plates in iron meteorites and as grains in stony meteorites.

Ureilite: An ultramafic achondrite meteorite that contains interstitial carbon in the form of graphite or diamond.

Widmanstätten Pattern: Figures appearing on an etched surface of an octahedrite. The result of an intergrowth of kamacite and taenite produced as the meteorite parent body cooled in space. A pattern found in iron meteorites due to a change in crystal structure of iron-nickel metal grains during cooling. This structural change produces a pattern of crystallographically oriented kamacite (low-nickel content, usually up to 7.5 wt% nickel) plates in taenite (high-nickel content, ~20 to 50 wt% nickel).


5. REFERENCE:

G. J. MacPherson et al: Calcium-Aluminum-rich Inclusions: Major Unanswered Questions Chondrites and the Protoplanetary Disk 2005

METEORITE: Organic

Organic matter in extraterrestrial water-bearing salt crystals
Chan et al

Abstract
Direct evidence of complex prebiotic chemistry from a water-rich world in the outer solar system is provided by the 4.5-billion-year-old halite crystals hosted in the Zag and Monahans (1998) meteorites. This study offers the first comprehensive organic analysis of the soluble and insoluble organic compounds found in the millimeter-sized halite crystals containing brine inclusions and sheds light on the nature and activity of aqueous fluids on a primitive parent body. Associated with these trapped brines are organic compounds exhibiting wide chemical variations representing organic precursors, intermediates, and reaction products that make up life’s precursor molecules such as amino acids. The organic compounds also contain a mixture of C-, O-, and N-bearing macromolecular carbon materials exhibiting a wide range of structural order, as well as aromatic, ketone, imine, and/or imidazole compounds. The enrichment in 15N is comparable to the organic matter in pristine Renazzo-type carbonaceous chondrites, which reflects the sources of interstellar 15N, such as ammonia and amino acids. The amino acid content of the Zag halite deviates from the meteorite matrix, supporting an exogenic origin of the halite, and therefore, the Zag meteorite contains organics synthesized on two distinct parent bodies. Our study suggests that the asteroidal parent body where the halite precipitated, potentially asteroid 1 Ceres, shows evidence for a complex combination of biologically and prebiologically relevant molecules.