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Micrometeorites

This could be the strangest micrometeorite in the world

It is our pleasure to introduce you to NMM 960, which we argue could be the strangest micrometeorite in the world.

This extraterrestrial rock was retrieved by yours truly, Jon Larsen, a couple of years ago and I distinctly recall the moment I viewed it under a microscope: I knew — immediately — that this was the weirdest micrometeorite thus far retrieved. Here’s why.

First, the stone itself is a “giant”, measuring approximately 0.5 mm. (Note: Most micrometeorites have a size of 0.2-0.3 mm.) Second, the stone has a color of translucent brown due to traces of the iron cation, Fe3+.

While these features do make it rare, its most bizarre feature is this: NMM 960 appears to be two distinct micrometeorites fused into one!

Upon inspection, I discovered that the upper part, which has a spherical shape, is a glass or vitreous (V) type. Whereas, the lower part, which is more elongated, is a cryptocrystalline (CC) type. And, by some miracle, here they are — bound together into one exceptionally strange micrometeorite!

What happened during formation? How could this have happened? Everything I know about micrometeorites tells me that this is not possible, yet here the evidence clearly contradicts me.

My colleague and dear friend, Jan Braly Kihle, who created the beautiful color image you see featured at the top of this post, has a favorite saying that is most appropriate:

“What’s possible, I leave to others.”

I do believe this puzzle of a micrometeorite is the physical manifestation of Jan’s favorite quote. Enjoy!

Below I have included a microscope image of NMM 960 taken by Dr. Martin D. Suttle and two scanning electron microscope (SEM) images taken by me, which reveal additional details.

Additional Images of NMM 960

An image of NMM 960 by Dr Martin D Suttle
NMM 960 photographed by Dr Martin D. Suttle.
A scanning electron microscope image of micrometeorite NMM by Jon Larsen
A rendered and edited SEM image of the same stone taken by Jon Larsen. © Project Stardust, 2022.
A scanning electron microscope image of micrometeorite NMM by Jon Larsen with data
Backscatter SEM image of NMM 960 by Jon Larsen. Note the amorph spheroid head, which is pit eroded, and crypyocrystalline aerodynamic droplet. © Project Stardust, 2022.

Lastly, dear reader, I’d like to thank you for spending your valuable time learning about micrometeorites with me. This work brings Jan and I so much joy and we’re so grateful to have a wonderful community to share it with.

If you have any comments about this fascinating micrometeorite or hypotheses about how NMM 960 may have come to be, please leave me a comment on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Yours truly,

Jon Larsen

Just in case you're new here!

Together we have amassed the world's most expansive collection of micrometeorites and we can't wait to share it with you.

Whether you're an expert in the field, an art collector with an appetite for treasures from space, or a budding stardust enthusiast, we hope you'll enjoy learning about our work.

Connect with us on social media to share the excitement of seeing new micrometeorites for the first time!

Jon Larsen & Jan Braly Kihle

We're so glad you're here!

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WINTER 2022 COLLECTION

Meet this season's micrometeorites

This season's collection features a variety of stunning micrometeorites. From mountainous cryptocrystalline turtlebacks and bewitching glass spherules to ultra rare giants. Available for a limited time only.

NMM 1448: V-TYPE

NMM 1448:  V-TYPE

Glass / Vitreous

Glass or vitreous type (V-type) micrometeorites each a temperature of up to 2000°C (3600°F) as they descend through the atmosphere..

These delicate, translucent spherules are difficult to find due to their lack of magnetism, since most of their metals evaporated during descent. 

NMM 1359:  CC-TYPE

Crypto-crystalline

Cryptocrystalline (CC-type) micrometeorites are composed of glassy particles with fine-grained crystallites that are too small to recognize as individual grains.

Many of these magnificent spherules feature metal beads and aerodynamic forms, while others have a "turtleback" shape with humps distributed evenly around the spherule.

NMM 1359:  CC-TYPE

NMM 500:  BO-TYPE

Barred Olivine

Barred olivine (BO-type) spherules are coarse-grained  micrometeorites made of the magnesium variety of the mineral olivine, forsterite, which is punctuated with small particles of magnetite.

The surface features striations that are formed when iron reacts with oxygen in the atmosphere. 

NMM 500:  BO-TYPE

NMM 1149:  PO-TYPE

Porphyritic Olivine

Porphyritic olivine (PO-type) micrometeorites are also made of forsterite, a type of olivine that is made of magnesium.

There are many morphological varieties of this type of micrometeorite; From evenly distributed small crystals, to crystals that increase in side, to extremely large or even possibly a single olivine crystal.

NMM 1149:  PO-TYPE

NMM 1271:  Sc-TYPE

Scoriaceous

When stardust does not reach a peak temperature of at least 1350°C (2500°F) during entry and deceleration, it barely melts. Volatile elements expand and escape in the form of gas bubbles, which results in a scoriaceous (SC-type) or vesicular micrometeorite.

Micrometeorites of this type are extremely difficult to find.

NMM 1271:  SC-TYPE

NMM 1271: G-, I-, CAT-typeS

Other Types

From G-types with dark silicate glass, I-types dominated by iron, and milky CAT spherules  enriched with calcium, aluminum, and titanium, to fossil, unmelted, and un-categorized micrometeorites.

There is no question that Jon Larsen and Jan Braly Kihle's contributions have had a dramatic effect on the field.

NMM 1271:  G-/I-/CAT-TYPES

Jon and Jan are
EXCEPTIONAL ARTISTS AND SCIENTISTS. 

Michael Zolensky

NASA JOhnson Space Center

SEM Collection

COMING SOON

Never forget: YOU ARE SURROUNDED BY STARDUST, inside and out.

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FIREBALL: Visitors from Darker Worlds

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From directors Werner Herzog and Clive Oppenheimer, this remarkable journey across our planet and universe explores how meteorites, shooting stars, and deep impacts have awoken our wonder about other realms-and make us rethink our destinies.

Limited Edition

The Atlas

of Micrometeorites

Never before has it been possible to see stardust in such a large format with crisp details. The 500+ color images are made possible by a new photo technology developed for this project by the author and mineralogist Jan Braly Kihle. 

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The Atlas of Micrometeorites provides an INVALUABLE RESOURCE
for stardust hunters around the world.

Matthew Genge

Imperial College, London

ORIGIN STORIES

Jon Larsen revolutionized the study of micrometeorites when he became the first person to discover a micrometeorite from an urban environment. Then a new form of art emerged when he and Jan Braly Kihle created the world's first high resolution photographs of micrometeorites in colour.

Learn about the singular moment that led to Jon's groundbreaking discovery
and the phone call that kickstarted a truly epic friendship.

Jon Larsen revolutionized the study of micrometeorites when he became the first person to discover a micrometeorite from an urban environment. Then a new form of art emerged when he and Jan Braly Kihle created the world's first high resolution photographs of micrometeorites in colour.

Learn about the singular moment that led to Jon's groundbreaking discovery and the phone call that kickstarted a truly epic friendship.

I HAVE TO KNOW

I'm ready. TEACH ME.

Micrometeorites

Jon Larsen and Jan Braly Kihle have amassed the world's most expansive collection of urban micrometeorites and they want you to follow in their footsteps.

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HALLO and welcome!

We're Jon Larsen & Jan Braly Kihle

We are world renowned micrometeorite experts here to share our cosmic art and inspire the world to become star hunters.

STARDUST
is everywhere