As soon as I read the caption of this lovely, if frigid, picture I knew I was going to like it: it’s an Envisat image of clouds forming east of the Russian Sikhote Alin mountains:
Sure, it’s pretty and all, but what’s so special about it?
In 1947, a rain of iron fell on this mountain range. A metallic asteroid the size of a school bus came in from space and exploded over Russia, showering the area with iron fragments. Named for the region, Sikhote Alin meteorites are highly valued: they are from a witnessed event, and are quite lovely. I own several, because I love them. My favorite is shaped like Darth Vader’s head!
A documentary was made about the Sikhote Alin fall, and it’s very cool; I wrote about it a few years back.
Isn’t that awesome? The meteorites those guys pick up so casually are worth thousands of dollars each today.
And in 1947, would those Russians poking through that forest have thought that sometime in the not-too-distant future, we’d routinely get an asteroid’s-eye-view of that very same region?
Image credit: ESA
How are those tied together? Glad you asked.
In the last paragraph of the Vesta post, I said we have samples of Vesta that fell as meteorites. As it happens, they had a sample of one of those rocks at the show! Here it is:
Other such meteorites have been found on Earth as well, and are generally referred to as HEDs, short for Howardite/Eucrite/Diogenite — the three main types of these rocks.
So how do we know these meteorites were once part of Vesta? Read More