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Micrometeorites

A micrometeorite, partially lost in space

Today I’m happy to share NMM 4006, a glass (V-type) micrometeorite measuring approximately 0.3 mm with a large empty imprint on the top where a metal bead has fallen out. Though somewhat tragic, this loss has provided us with a unique opportunity, as it means we can see the bottom of the hole, which would not be visible if the micrometeorite were intact.

So let’s take advantage of the scenario and discuss!

Within the hole, we can see that the coarse olivine crystals in the bottom are surrounded by an iron sulfide rim and a narrow crystalline band. Note the texture of these materials. I wonder what inferences can be made about the formation of the bead and surrounding crystals?

Opposite, in the back of the oriented micrometeorite is a large open vesicle that formed when gas volatiles escaped during entry. The matrix of the glass spherule is dark olive green/brown with a peculiar surface pattern. To be honest, I am not sure what may have caused these strange abrasions. It looks almost like a thin “film” with lots of scratches on the surface is.

Do you have any suggestions?

When I asked this question on the Project Stardust Facebook Page, Mark Waterbury hypothesized that perhaps these scratches formed because of physiochemical forces, pushing material up to the surface layer, which could have lower free energy. Daniel Thommen (who discovered and kindly gifted NMM 3162 to me) suggested that the scratches are likely due to mechanical damage inflicted by harder particles on Earth. Jesus Cejas wondered if the scratches could be the expression of a different compound in the glass matrix that appeared during melting at a high temperature.

What fantastic ideas! I feel truly grateful for the wonderful community of people on social media who share my curiosity and fascination with micrometeorites!

Jan Braly Kihle and I recently began a new research project with the brilliant astrophysicist Dr. Roar Skartlien from the Institute for Energy Technology (IFE). We will be investigating how different variables like entry speed, temperature, entry mass, and entry angle affect the formation of micrometeorites.

I’ll be sure to share updates on our project here and on social media.

As always, thank you for taking the time to be here today and please reach out on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with your questions and comments!

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

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

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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.

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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
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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