Even though the study of micrometeorites is part of geosciences, the field also intersects with astronomy.
First, wherever telescopes are directed in the dark night sky, there is cosmic dust to be seen. Second, micrometeorites pose a serious threat to the space industry, as even a small grain of cosmic dust can penetrate inches of metal in the cold vacuum of space.
Consequently, I am frequently asked to lecture about stardust both at geological and astronomical societies, and even space organizations.
A few weeks ago, I received an invitation from the Astronomical Society in Kristiansand, Norway, where the local astronomy enthusiasts have a red club house a few miles beyond the city lights. It became a very interesting evening with more than one hour of Q&A after the presentation. The astronomers had lots of really interesting questions and we all learned something new that night.
Introducing NMM 3164
Immediately before the lecture, however, I used my magnet to take a quick sample of the dust from the rain gutter of the club house. I guessed that the area right beneath the surveillance cameras of the meteor network might be the best place to look for a new micrometeorite or two. This quick field search yielded less than a gram of magnetic particles, but once again it has paid off to quickly scout for space rocks!
When I got home to the microscope, it turned out there was indeed a new micrometeorite in the sample from the rain gutter: A small barred olivine (BO) type measuring approximately 140 µm was staring up me. The tiny stone is egg shaped and has a remarkably shiny surface from abundant glass — fresh as a daisy.
A couple of days later, Jan Braly Kihle and I photographed it, and here is the result; micrometeorite NMM 3164, found in the rain gutter of the club house of the Astronomical Society!
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