Until Jan Braly Kihle and I created the world’s first high resolution images of micrometeorites in the visual spectrum, scanning electron microscopes (SEM) were used to capture images of these fascinating particles.
SEM images reveal extraordinary details and are an invaluable research tool. However, they often miss important and interesting details.
For example, the first image in this post is a high resolution color macro photograph by Jan Braly Kihle and me of cryptocrystalline (CC-type) micrometeorite NMM 3119.
In this image, you can clearly that the stone is extremely reflective on the surface. In fact, the dark shadows at two and seven o’clock are most likely reflections of other micrometeorites during the photo shoot. The approximately 0.3 mm CC-type stone has a metal bead in the front and a rounded glass tail,
However, the most fascinating feature of NMM 3119 goes undetected in the black and white electron microscope image (shown second in this post). Look closely at the color image and you will see a “glowing” interior.
What can it be?
So often in this work I am confronted by intriguing mysteries such as this one. Perhaps further study will reveal the particle’s interior composition, but perhaps not. Only time will tell.
Whatever the future holds, NMM 3119 once again demonstrates the necessity of documenting micrometeorites in color and with a scanning electron microscope.
P.S. The most comprehensive book about micrometeorites is the fantastic Atlas of Micrometeorites, which is available now as instant PDF download! Enjoy!