MadSci Network: Edible/Inedible Experiments Archive

Collecting Micrometeorites

Area of Science: Astronomy
Meant for at least Grade K-3 (age 5-7).
This experiment is inedible.
An adult need not be present.

Collect micrometeorites from indoor and outdoor sources.



How to do the experiment:
Pick a sunny day to leave your plastic sheet outdoors. After some time, collect the sheet, roll the sides up, and gently tap all material into the center of the sheet.

An alternative to this procedure is to collect dust from areas such as the leaves from plants kept indoors or outside, or from window sills. Use a brush to collect the particulate matter into a small container, then pour it onto a piece of paper or plastic.

Pass a magnet under the material and then gently tilt the paper or plastic to get rid of non-magnetic particles. Your meteorites will be found within the remaining material.

Inspect the particles under a magnifying glass or with a microscope. The microscope is preferred as the micrometeorites are more readily identified under higher magnification (10-20X).

Inspect the dust, looking for dark spherical particles with a pitted surface. Micrometeorites!

Tons of interstellar dust and debris bombard the earth every day. Much of this material formed with the rest of the solar system, 4 - 5 billion years ago.

Useful References:
Micrometeorites Lesson at NASA
Micrometeorites from Antarctica

Further comments:
Try some of the web links for images of micrometeorites to help you identify ones you isolate.

Experiment submitted on Sat Dec 12 20:54:23 1998 by:
Name: MadSci Admin
Institution: MadSci Net.
Position: Collective Engima Elucidator

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