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
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.