Cosmochemistry

Four Fascinating Meteorites That Provide Clues to Understanding Our Solar System

Meteorites have been falling to Earth for literally hundreds of millions of years—and continue to land here today. Our Meteorites exhibition features rare and fascinating meteorites, from fossil meteorites to a meteorite on Mars. 

Bright Fireball Over the Midwest

On Monday, February 6, 2017, around 1:30am local time, many inhabitants of the Midwest saw a bright fireball shooting across the night sky. Some even heard a sonic boom. The Field Museum's Invertebrate Collections Manager Paul Mayer woke up from the sonic boom: "I was staying in Fredonia, Wisconsin and was woken up by a large boom that shook the whole house. It sounded like thunder and I thought maybe it was a train hitting something. I got up and looked out the window, but did not see anything.

Today’s rare meteorites were once common

Four hundred and sixty-six million years ago, there was a giant collision in outer space. Something hit an asteroid and broke it apart, sending chunks of rock falling to Earth as meteorites since before the time of the dinosaurs. But what kinds of meteorites were making their way to Earth before that collision? In a new study in Nature Astronomy, Field Museum scientists have tackled that question by creating the first reconstruction of the distribution of meteorite types before the collision.

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