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Meteorite hunters: Scientists want to search the Antarctic for rare space rocks



In a bold attempt to detect lost meteorites, scientists are to comb through the frozen waste of the Antarctic.

Manchester University experts are planning a bold mission to seek space rock on the icy continent. Meteorites, they explain, can provide the formation of the solar system with iron meteorites, in particular, that provide valuable information about the formation of planets.

The southernmost continent of the world could be extremely fertile for meteorite research. Of the more than 35,000 meteorites recorded in collections around the world, around two-thirds have been recovered from the Antarctic, according to the BBC.

METEOR PRINTED FOR LIGHT LIGHT, SMOKE RIGHT MICHIGAN

Colored, non-metallic meteorites are relatively easy to detect on the white surface of the Antarctic, researchers note that iron meteorite finds in Antarctica are significantly lower than in other parts of the Antarctic World. Experts suggest that the missing meteorites are only a few centimeters below the surface of the ice. Warmed up by the sun, the iron-rich meteorites are likely to melt the ice around them, sinking them and becoming trapped in the ice.

  A satellite view of the Antarctic can be seen in this undated NASA handout photo from Reuters. 2012. According to a new study by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, published on 15 July 2013, sea levels could rise by 2.3 meters per degree Celsius, causing global temperatures to rise and remain high for centuries to come. REUTERS / NASA / Reuters Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY ENVIRONMENT) NOTICE EDITORS - THIS IMAGE IS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY BY REUTERS AS A CUSTOMER SERVICE - GM1E97F1TEF01

File Photo – A satellite view of the Antarctic is featured in this undated NASA handout photo from Reuters on Feb. 6, 2012. (REUTERS / NASA / Handout via Reuters)

In collaboration with the British Antarctic Survey, scientists will study three metal detectors in Antarctica using special metal detection technology. A first visit to the continent will take place in 2019, with the main expedition scheduled for next year.

"We now have the opportunity to begin a truly exciting science adventure," Dr. Geoffrey Evatt, an attorney mathematician at the University of Manchester and a member of the research team, in a statement. "If successful, our expeditions will help scientists decipher the origins of the solar system and consolidate Britain as a leader in meteorology and planetary science."

METEORITE HUNTERS GET FIRST PIECES OF THE MICHIGAN FIREBALL [19659003] The BBC reports that the scientists' technology has recently undergone a successful attempt on Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean.

  Glaciers are seen in Half Moon Bay, Antarctica, February 18, 2018. REUTERS / Alexandre Meneghini ANTARKTICA "FOR THIS STORY SEARCH" BROADER IMAGE "FOR ALL STORIES - RC1162B874C0

File Photo – Glaciers are seen in Half Moon Bay, Antarctica, February 18, 2018. (REUTERS / Alexandre Meneghini)

Meteorites landing in the Antarctic are gradually transported by ice movements towards the coast of the continent, according to the BBC. However, natural barriers such as mountains can prevent their ice-bound journey to the sea, potentially providing fertile hunting grounds for scientists.

A research paper describing the expedition was published in the journal Nature Communications.

ARIZONA METEORITE FETCHES RECORD-BREAKING $ 237,500 at the auction

A meteoroid is a small chunk of asteroids or comets. When it enters the Earth's atmosphere, it becomes a meteor or fireball or shooting star. The valuable boulders for the collector are meteorites.

Earlier this year, a meteor hit the headlines as it flashed across the sky in Michigan. The blazing fireball crawled meteorite hunters to find fragments of the rare space rock.

Depending on size and material, meteorites can be lucrative finds. "Because meteorites are so scarce, they are priced and sold by the gram," explains the Meteorlab website.

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According to Meteorlab, common iron meteorite prices are generally between 50 cents and 5 dollars per gram. However, stone meteorites are much scarcer and cost between $ 2 and $ 20 per gram. A type of stone-iron meteorite called Pallasite is of great interest to private collectors, according to Geology.com.

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

The Associated Press has contributed to this article.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers


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