Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2002 December 26
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Searching for Meteorites in Antarctica
Credit & Copyright: Ralph P. Harvey (CWRU), Antarctic Search for Meteorites Program, NASA, NSF

Explanation: Where is the best place on Earth to find meteorites? Although meteors fall all over the world, they usually just sink to the bottom of an ocean, are buried by shifting terrain, or are easily confused with terrestrial rocks. At the bottom of the Earth, however, in East Antarctica, huge sheets of blue ice remain pure and barren. When traversing such a sheet, a dark rock will stick out. These rocks have a high probability of being true meteorites -- likely pieces of another world. An explosion or impact might have catapulted these meteorites from the Moon, Mars, or even an asteroid, yielding valuable information about these distant worlds and our early Solar System. Small teams of snowmobiling explorers so far have found thousands. Pictured above, ice-trekkers search a field 25-kilometers in front of Otway Massif in the Transantarctic Mountain Range during the Antarctic summer of 1995-1996.

Tomorrow's picture: x-ray mystery

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
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