After my discovery of the first micrometeorites in Denmark this past August, I was invited back for lectures last month. Since this is new in Denmark, many people were surprised that it is possible to find extraterrestrial rocks almost everywhere. Some scientific researchers still doubted that this is possible, but after a lecture with Q&A afterwards, some of them turned into new star hunters. This conversion is wonderful, because we need a lot more research on these amazing particles if we ever are going to find out where and when they come from; and if they played a role in how life began on Earth. More about that later.
To me, one of the most interesting lectures was for children, age six to ten (Photo 2). At that age, they are all scientists, and sometimes ask important questions grownups have lost their imagination to raise. Like, what happens if we eat stardust?
After the lecture I asked for permission to search for stardust in the school’s rain gutter (Photos 3 and 4). In a couple of hours I had collected three large plastic sacks with approximately twenty kilograms of “dirt” in each (Photos 5 and 6). Why from the rain gutter, and not from the ground? Experience shows that the signal-to-noise ratio is slightly better up there, with a bit less manmade micrometeorite lookalikes. It is simply easier to find stardust on elevated surfaces, such as roofs or gutters.
Later, when I got home, I cleaned the sixty kilograms of dirt from the rain gutter (Photo 7), and ended up with approximately twenty-five kilograms of mineral particles. The remaining thirty-five kilograms were washed away as organic compounds and fine-grained particles smaller than 0.1 mm. The process of cleansing and refining is described step-by-step in my book How To Find Stardust.
After drying, the particles were screened for size before the magnetic extraction. In Photos 8 and 9 you can see the five size fractions, and the one gram of magnetic extraction. That is a reduction to 1/60,000 of the initial mass from the roof. After a couple of hours of microscopy, the yield was clear; I had discovered no less than 23 new Danish micrometeorites. All the common types were present: glass (V-type), cryptocrystalline (CC-type), barred olivine (BO-type), porphyritic olivine (PO-type), and scoriaceous (SC-type). Nine of them are in the new collage of photos by Jan Braly Kihle and me at the top of this post (Photo 10).
Nine of the new micrometeorites were found in the 0.2 to 0.4 mm range and the remaining fourteen were smaller in size.
The following day, I drove to Copenhagen to meet Professor Martin Bizzarro, and we teamed up on a new scientific micrometeorite project which we will keep you updated on here at the Project Stardust blog. These are exciting times indeed, and we welcome all new Danish star hunters. Enjoy!